Smotherman adds state title to resume

The Del Oro senior used five birdies to a 4-under-par 67
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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Austin Smotherman knew he was in the running, but he didn?t know how close he was. So when the Del Oro High senior saw his coaches celebrate Wednesday on the final hole of the CIF State golf championship at San Gabriel Country Club in San Gabriel all he could do was smile. ?I kind of had a smile on my face, walked off and it hit me,? Smotherman said. ?I got a little emotional. My dad was here for it, it was kind of special.? Smotherman capped off his illustrious high school career with a CIF State title after a 4-under-par 67 in which he held off two of the top six junior golfers in the world for a one-stroke victory. Teammate Justin Raskin, who was the only other Eagle to qualify for the tournament, finished tied for 26th with a 6-over-par 77. Del Oro?s Sierra Foothill League rival, Granite Bay, won the state team title by two strokes with a 19-over-par 374. The title is the first for a Del Oro golfer. Smotherman finished fourth in the state last year and carded a record-low 65 in his Sac-Joaquin Section Masters win last month at The Reserve in Stockton. Smotherman, who will play collegiately at SMU next year, birdied five holes and had just one blemish on his card when he bogeyed the par-4, 443-yard seventh hole, which was statistically the hardest hole on the course. He rebounded to birdie the next hole, which was the third-hardest. ?I just played solid all day, didn?t really make any mistakes,? Smotherman said. ?I had one bogey and bounced right back after my 16th hole? I kind of proved to myself that I could handle the pressure and I knew how to get one back.? Smotherman needed the birdie on the eighth hole, which was his 17th after he started on the 10th. Beau Hossler, a junior out of Santa Margarita, finished before Smotherman at 3-under. Hossler, who finished second, is the No. 3-rated junior golfer in the world according to Golf Week and has qualified for the U.S. Open the last two years. Jonathan Garrick, a senior from St. Francis in Mountain View who is ranked No. 6 in the world, was also in the running but three bogeys set him back to a fifth-place finish at 1-under. Smotherman said he is friends with Hossler and Garrick. The three stayed in the same house in April during the Junior Invitational in Graniteville, S.C. ?I couldn?t have done anything more this year,? Smotherman said. ?The only thing that would have been better is if we were here as a team.? Raskin had 14 pars, bogeyed two and had two double bogeys on the day. Before the tournament the junior said he was happy to just be among the top 54 golfers in the state and while he admitted he didn?t putt well, the experience had him even more prepared for his senior year next season. ?Where the pins were today, it was by far the toughest pins I?ve played in a long time,? Raskin said. ?It was a great experience though.?