Chris Ebster leaves high school with no regrets, but The Bee’s All-District Boys Golfer of the Year still hasn’t made peace with his final round.
After draining a 20-footer for birdie on No. 10, the Gregori High graduate watched in disbelief as three putts inside four feet lipped out at The Reserve at Spanos Park. It was cruel and costly finish to the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament.
Those misses, coupled with swirling winds, conspired against the three-time CIF State qualifier. Instead of returning to the regional round, Ebster headed home – into the offseason – with a mountain of what-ifs to climb.
He missed the cut for a playoff by two strokes and Gregori, the Modesto Metro and Division I South champions, never challenged in the team standings, delivering an anticlimactic finish to a brilliant high school career.
“That was annoying,” Ebster said, “and it pretty much cost me. That’s three strokes right there, and with three strokes, I make it. The putter wasn’t the strongest that day. After that round, I spent the next day at the course. I was mad. It makes me want it more. I don’t want that to happen again.”
There is bigger, better golf ahead.
A two-time Bee player of the year, Ebster has committed to UNLV, a program on the rise, and will enroll in August. His optimism is matched by his confidence, despite his struggles one afternoon at The Reserve.
“In the past, my driver has been erratic, going everywhere,” Ebster said. “This year, it was pretty straight, and I hit it far for my size. Going out there, if I played a bad round, or an off round compared to what I expected, it was still even-par.”
In his final high school season, Ebster netted Modesto Metro Conference MVP honors and guided the Jaguars to the school’s first section championship. Gregori won the Division I South Tournament at Spring Creek Country Club in Ripon, posting a 378. Ebster carded a 71, one stroke back of the medalist, Lodi’s Justin Gums.
“I felt like my game this year was more solid than it was in past years,” he said, “but this was the year I didn’t make it (to State). It was weird. I had the most confidence in my game … and that’s probably what killed me. I had expected to make it this year.”
Those expectations were warranted.
As a freshman, Ebster guided Central Catholic to the CIF State Boys Golf Championship at San Gabriel Country Club in Southern California. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the moment, the Raiders, a team comprised of three freshmen and two juniors, finished sixth out of six teams, but Ebster provided a glimpse of the player he would become.
He fired a 2-over 73, playing the final 16 holes at even-par.
Ebster transferred to Gregori as a sophomore and sat out of the first 30 days of the season. Still, he called the decision to relocate one of the best he’s ever made, and it’s hard to argue the results.
He returned to State as a sophomore, and won the Modesto Metro Conference Tournament and placed second at the CIF Northern California Golf Championship as a junior. He shot a 3-under 69 at Salinas’ Corral de Tierra.
This season, Ebster captained the greatest season in school history, regardless of sport. On a campus teeming with champions, the boys golf team owns bragging rights – and the only blue banner.
“I bragged to everybody at school,” Ebster said. “I even told the baseball players, you may have gone undefeated (for 26 games), but we got the section banner. No one thought Gregori was good at golf. It’s always baseball, softball, volleyball and girls track. Well, our golf team was better than all of them.”
All-District Spring Glance
Tuesday, June 13: Boys golf
Wednesday, June 14: Boys tennis
Thursday, June 15: Swimming
Friday, June 16: Track
Saturday, June 17: Softball
Sunday, June 18: Baseball