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Foothill League boys golf: Mind control

Chang settles down to win league title; Wildcats are top team

Posted: April 28, 2010 10:39 p.m.
Updated: April 29, 2010 4:55 a.m.

C.J. Espino of West Ranch, which won the team title, watches his putt Wednesday.

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Just how much of the game of golf is mental?

Valencia High golfer Jonathan Chang saw a sports psychologist after his worst round of the year on April 20.

Armed with some new breathing exercises and a lot more patience, the sophomore finished out the Foothill League season by winning the Newhall Land Cup and the bigger prize, the Foothill Most Valuable Player.

Chang shot an even-par 72 on Wednesday at TPC Valencia and outlasted West Ranch’s C.J. Espino for MVP.

Chang and Espino came into the day tied in total strokes for the season.

They were also in the same group on Wednesday, setting up what amounted to be a one-on-one matchup for the award.

The pair were neck and neck through 12 holes, but Chang birdied two of the final six holes and Espino finished 3-over on the final six to finish at 4-over 76 for the day.

Chang said he wasn’t concerned with how Espino did, but was aware.

“I’m watching him, seeing how he does, just being patient, seeing who cracks first under pressure,” Chang said.

Espino admitted it was him.

“(Tuesday), I said I wasn’t going to play against Chang,” Espino said. “But it’s so hard not to.”

Chang’s two-day 141 marks the second-lowest score in Newhall Land Cup’s five-year history. Hart’s Johnny MacArthur shot a 138 in 2008.

Espino finished second in the tournament with a 146.

The second day of the Newhall Land Cup doubles as the sixth and final league match, determining the top three teams in the Foothill League and the top seven individuals, all of whom go on to the CIF-Southern Section postseason.

Espino’s consolation prize is that West Ranch officially claimed its third consecutive Foothill League title, which was never in doubt throughout the season.

Saugus finished in second place for the first time in school history, edging Valencia by 11 strokes on the season.

“That’s what we wanted to do,” said Saugus’ Andrew Moore, who led his team with a 76 on Wednesday. “We went out and played well and eliminated the big numbers.”

All three schools will represent the Foothill League at the Northern Team Divisional on May 10 at Soule Park in Ojai.

Chang, Espino, West Ranch’s J.J. Holen, Clayton Thatch, Luis Garcia, Moore and Canyon’s Justin Golden will represent the Foothill League in the May 17 Northern Individual Regional at River Ridge Golf Club in Oxnard.

West Ranch shot a team score of 381 on Wednesday, followed by Saugus’ 404 and Valencia’s 414.

With a 416 on Wednesday, Hart leapfrogged Canyon and finished in fourth place on the season overall by five strokes.

Hart was led by a pair of 80s on Wednesday by Robbie Witkowski and Chad David.

Canyon shot a 426, led by Golden’s 80.

Golden Valley shot a 491, led by Sean Weiss’ 79.

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