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Narrowing his focus

Lynch led area with 75.6 scoring average in league play

Victor Valley senior Jake Lynch’s focus was so intense that he sometimes felt like the only player on the golf course.

“His biggest strength is focusing in on what he’s doing and not what everyone else is doing in his group,” Victor Valley coach Chris Padget said.

Lynch’s powers of concentration helped him turn in the lowest scoring average in the Desert Sky League, 3.5 strokes better than his closest competitor. He won four league matches and never finished lower than second in eight meetings, averaging 75.6.

His play helped the Jackrabbits claim the DSL and has also earned him the 2009 Daily Press Golf Athlete of the Year honor.

“When I was younger, I would get kind of nervous when the pressure situation came along,” Lynch said. “There was no pressure situation this year. I did my own thing, and didn’t worry about anybody else. I just played my own game, and if I played a bad round, it was because I didn’t have it that day. It’s just helped me out, especially in tournament golf.”

As a freshman, Lynch walked into one of the best high school golf programs the High Desert has ever seen, playing in the No. 5 spot in both of his first two prep seasons.

“That was a great two years of golf,” Lynch said. “It’s an experience I’ve yet to top. It was just great playing with those guys. I really was growing through them. They helped me out a lot. The last two years I had to do it on my own. Kind of grow as a captain and grow the team myself.”

The Jackrabbits — featuring four-time Daily Press Golf Athlete of the Year Ricky Montanez and three others who had qualified to CIF individuals at one time or another — won two league titles and a CIF-Southern Section Desert Division team title in Lynch’s sophomore year.

More importantly, Lynch learned from the calm demeanor of Montanez, who will be heading into his junior season at Long Beach State in the fall.

“Playing in tournaments, I always remember there was Ricky, he never lost his cool,” Lynch said. “I learned from Ricky that you have to keep it going. Do your thing. Don’t worry about anybody else. Just do your thing.”

Lynch’s four mentors graduated after his sophomore year, and he was left with a rebuilding team his junior season, in which he qualified to CIF for the first time and had the third-lowest DSL average.

And this season, Lynch led the ’Rabbits back to the top of the DSL. He shot a season-low 69 at China Lake Golf Course during a league match, a 72 to finish third at the Diamondbacks for Sarah’s Hope tournament and a 75 at the Jackrabbit Invitational to take second.

He also beat Apple Valley junior and Mojave River League MVP Alec Hutchason by three shots in a 9-hole non-league match midway through the season, which he said gave him some confidence coming down the stretch.

Right after his senior season ended, he finished tied for sixth at the San Bernardino County Amateur Golf Tournament.

“That was probably the best accomplishment in golf I’ve had,” Lynch said. “It was a pretty good tournament, and I played solid. I was competing with guys who are veterans. They’ve been playing their whole lives. I’m sitting there, playing with them and competing. It was really fun to come into the last day and (be) in the second group.”

Lynch plans to attend Cal State San Bernardino, where he hopes to walk onto the golf team there.

His attitude toward making it at CSUSB is just like the one he displays on the course, the demeanor he learned from watching Montanez and other teammates early in his prep career.

“If I don’t make it, I’m just going to work harder at my game and try again next year,” Lynch said. “If it doesn’t work out, then try harder. Just keep trying.”

C.J. Daft can be reached at 951-6275 or at christiand@vvdailypress.com.


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