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SUNRISE GOLF: Foothill’s Chu takes commanding first-round lead

In the lead up to the Division I Sunrise Region boys golf tournament, Foothill coach Paul DeSantis emphasized to his team that the championship can’t be won during the opening round.

Falcons senior Andrew Chu did his best Tuesday to blow that theory out of the water.

Chu posted a 7-under-par 65 on a blustery day at DragonRidge Country Club and owns a commanding seven-shot lead heading into Wednesday’s final round at Reflection Bay Golf Club, where conditions are expected to be difficult as well.

The first tee time is at noon. The top two teams and the top five individuals from nonqualifying teams advance to the Division I state tournament, which opens Monday at Montreux Golf and Country Club in Reno.

“Overall, I stayed pretty calm throughout the day, and when I had an opportunity, I capitalized on it,” Chu said. “I’m just trying to help the team make state.”

Coronado tops the team standings after posting a 388 that included four rounds in the 70s. Green Valley is second at 399, with third-place Foothill (402) also in contention.

Foothill’s Grant George shot 72 and is alone in second place, followed by Grant McKay of Coronado and Green Valley’s Ty Klabacka, who each shot 74. Basic’s J.D. Ebert is in fifth place after a 75.

Chu, the runner-up at the past two region tournaments, eagled No. 4 and chipped in for birdie on the par-3 fifth hole on the way to the best round of his career. He made the turn at 6 under and was 8 under through 13 holes before his lone bogey of the round on the par-3 14th hole.

“After I chipped in from the back of the green (on No. 5), I started to have a little momentum,” said Chu, who also lipped out a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 12. “I just tried to keep it in play on my tee shots and not make any stupid mistakes.”

Coronado’s Jalen Hodges was 3 under through 11 holes but stumbled home on the way to a 76, as much of the back nine played uphill and into the wind. Hodges had three double bogeys on the final seven holes, including one on No. 18 when he hit his tee shot out of bounds.

While Hodges struggled as the gusts picked up later in the afternoon, three of his teammates had no such issues. Wonsuk Lee had a stretch of eight straight pars on the back nine as he shot 77, and Aaron Knief carded a 78. Those two, along with McKay, played the final nine holes in a combined 5 over par.

“What stands out is we got three really good back nines in difficult conditions,” Coronado coach Joe Sawaia said. “Our balance, that’s what’s been our strength all year. We’re definitely looking forward to the challenge. We have to stay patient and understand par’s a great score.”

Green Valley’s Mason Comastro (77) is tied for seventh place individually and was the only other player to break 80.

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