Wong, Ban win overall titles as 61st Bumgardner concludes

bvanderbeek@modbee.comJuly 10, 2013 

    alternate textBrian VanderBeek
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: Sports, including preps, colleges and the Modesto Nuts
    Bio: Brian VanderBeek joined The Bee in 1996 after previously working at The Home News-Tribune and The Star-Ledger in New Jersey, the (Dover) Delaware State News and the Hanford Sentinel. He is a graduate of Ripon High, Modesto Junior College and holds a degree in journalism from Fresno State.
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    On Twitter: @modestobeek
    E-mail: bvanderbeek@modbee.com

— There were four holes remaining, but Landon Azevedo already realized he was playing for second place.

The Hilmar High junior to-be birdied holes 4 and 5 at Del Rio Country Club's Oak nine, which should have put him in position to make a run at San Jose's Shintaro Ban.

But Ban — playing in the same group — also rolled in short birdie putts on the same holes, then cruised to a five-stroke victory in the 61st Bumgardner Junior Memorial Golf Tournament.

Ban carded six birdies during his five-under-par 67, which gave him a four-under-par 140 total for the two rounds.

Azevedo had the day's second-best round — a three-under-par 69 — but had to settle for second place at 145.

"I've been around Shintaro enough to know that when he starts to go off he's going to stay solid," Azevedo said. "For me it was all about my performance and the battle within against the course. You can't be responsible for what your opponent is doing, so you have to perform for yourself."

Oakdale's Mabel Wong rode a second-round 77 to a 148 total and a five-shot victory over Hannah Facchini in the girls tournament.

Bradley Reeves of Woodbridge improved his opening-round score by 10 strokes, carding a 71 for a 152 total, to claim the boys' 14-15 bracket by two strokes over Johansen High's Daniel Pena.

There were no 18th hole dramatic finishes on Tuesday, but there was some drama. Around noon, as many of the young players and their parents gathered for lunch under Del Rio's signature oak, the ancient tree gave up one of its limbs.

The patrons scattered as the large limb crashed down amid the tables and chairs, but since nobody suffered as much as a scratch it was the tree itself that was the worse for wear.

Ban is entering his senior year at Archbishop Mitty High, but already has committed to play college golf at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

Being from San Jose, he had his choice of Junior Golf Association of Northern California tournaments to play this week, including two that were closer to home.

But not only does Ban enjoy playing Del Rio, having already claimed the Bumgardner overall crown two summers ago, he'll be back at the club next week as it hosts U.S. Amateur qualifying.

"Del Rio is a great course," Ban said. "I knew we'd have pretty tough conditions out here, which makes this good practice for next week."

Ban was tied for the lead after the first round with Johansen's Grant Plunkett, but Ban was clear of Plunkett by three strokes at the turn, then Plunkett carded four bogeys in a stretch of five holes en route to a 78 for a 151 total and a tie for fourth.

If Ban was aware of the size of his lead with nine holes to play, he didn't show it.

The 5-foot, 7-inch, 130-pounder continued to blast drives in excess of 300 yards, which put his remarkable short game on display.

He seldom missed greens, but it was no problem when he did. Over the two rounds, Ban was 6-for-6 in sand saves.

"I do hit it a long way for my size," Ban said. "At the turn, I felt like I was even with the field. I knew Landon was right with me for the day, but I just tried to stay calm and play safe and conservative."

Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek

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