Recent national events suggest playing high school golf in Arizona can greatly enhance your future.
• Event No. 1: Chez Reavie won his first PGA Tour title. The Mesa Dobson High School graduate was a four-time all-state selection for the Mustangs but never won a state title. During the last week of July he won the RBC Canadian Open and this year has won more than $1.3 million.
• Event No. 2: Amanda Blumenherst won the U.S. Women’s Amateur earlier this month. The Phoenix Xavier graduate was a two-time individual state champion and a part of four team titles. She hasn’t slowed down a bit since leaving the Valley of the Sun.
Blumenherst went on to Duke University, where she is the No. 1 ranked collegiate player. The only thing left for her to prove is if she can make it on the LPGA Tour, and she’s already played well in several of those events, including majors, as an amateur.
• Event No. 3: Drew Kittleson advanced to the final of the U.S. Amateur. Kittleson, now at Florida State, was a surprise finalist in the biggest amateur tournament in the world who was beaten by New Zealand’s Danny Lee. Kittleson prepped at Phoenix Pinnacle, where he was the 2004 state champion.
The Valley has always produced some of the best junior golfers in the United States, but the amount of quality players has increased. The Valley is now a destination for aspiring professionals.
“There’s a lot of families that have talented junior golfers, and they look for places where they can have opportunities to play and practice and get great instruction,’’ Chandler Hamilton coach Steve Kanner said.
Several players on the Hamilton boys team, including Andrew Yun and Shayne Yoon, are in the Valley because they feel like it is the best place to train for their future profession. Yun came from Seattle and Yoon from Canada.
One of Xavier’s newest golfers is Katrina Ruzickova from the Czech Republic. She is the No. 3-ranked junior player in Europe.
Most of the premier junior golfers choose to play high school golf, although it’s not a requirement to advance their golfing careers.
“I would be kidding myself if I thought high school was a path to the PGA or even college golf,’’ Kanner said. “I think the college coaches like to see them play high school golf to see how they fit in, but they don’t have to.
“Those who don’t play high school golf are missing out on something.’’
DID YOU KNOW?
• Xavier has won 26 state championships and 10 straight titles. There’s nothing to suggest that an 11th won’t happen in November.
• Katrina Ruzickova, from the Czech Republic, will join the Gators’ program as one of the top-ranked junior players from Europe.
• Only twice in the last 25 years has the 5A-I boys state championship team not come from an East Valley or Scottsdale school. Tucson Salpointe won the title in 2004 and Tucson Sabino in 1986.
• Hamilton will be Arizona’s lone representative at the prestigious Bart Granger Memorial Tournament in Texas Sept. 19-20.
• For the first time there will be a 4A-I and a 4A-II girls state championship.
10 ATHLETES TO WATCH
David Logston, Corona del Sol, Sr. – Was 5-under par to win 5A-I state title.
Andrew Yun, Hamilton, Sr. – Second at last year’s 5A-I state championships.
Trey Kaahuani, McClintock, So. – Runner-up at 4A-I championships.
Nick Lesole, Notre Dame, Sr. – 4A-II state champion.
Shayne Yoon, Hamilton, Jr. – Helped team win 2007 state title.
Shelby Martinek, Marcos de Niza, Jr. – 5A-II state runner-up.
Shelby Phillips, Highland, So. – Sixth at last year’s state championship.
Cheyenne Hickle, Gilbert, Sr. – A top-10 finish at state last two years.
Kaira Martin, Xavier, So. – Part of 2007 state championship team.
Kimberly Kim, Xavier, Sr. – No. 1-ranked junior golfer in America.
Teams to watch
Hamilton – Won the last three 5A-I state titles.
Notre Dame – Is the defending 4A-II state champion.
Chaparral – Is the defending 4A-I state champion.
Brophy Prep – Was second at 5A-I last year.
Xavier – Girls golf seems to begin and end with the Gators.
Hamilton – May pose biggest threat to Xavier’s dominance.
Corona del Sol – Most of coach Pat Reed’s team returns after fourth-place finish last year.
Desert Ridge – Will defend its 5A-II state championship.