Baker rebounds from rough start to season, golf inching closer to qualifying team for state

Senior Gary Baker eyes a putt. VVN/Travis Guy

Senior Gary Baker eyes a putt. VVN/Travis Guy

Last week the Mingus Union golf team wrapped up its second match of the season, and now prepare for the thick of the season, where they will average two matches a week for the next six weeks.

"I would have like to won, but to the fact that we were that close I'm pleased," said head coach Craig Mai. "To me it's like you get these first two out of the way, now we're into the heart of our season, now its time to get out there and play golf."

At the past match, the Marauders joined Page High School and Bradshaw Mountain at the Lake Powell National Golf Course. The Sand Devils took finished with top honors for the day, shooting a score of 166, but the Marauders ended right on their heels, with a 167.

Leading the way for Mingus Union was senior Gary Baker. After getting in penalty trouble in their home opener, Baker rebounded by shooting a 38, one stroke better than the state qualifying score, 39, and joined teammate Ryan Sullivan as an early season state qualifier.

"Gary Baker shot a 38, he was our leader, and that was a qualifying score, so that was nice for him to bounce back after last Thursday, when we had our home match, so that was nice for him to get some confidence and play well.

Through nine holes, Baker hit par on five of them and birdied once. Baker shot, what Mai described as, "a solid, consistent round," a far cry from his season debut at Verde Santa Fe Golf Course, where the senior got in penalty stroke trouble.

"He just avoided the penalty strokes, is the main thing," Mai said. "At home, he had five of them, if I'm not mistaken. He just avoided those and just played a solid round of golf, void of making mistakes. I think he had three bogeys and a birdie, and the other five were par., just a solid, consistent round."

Finishing after Baker was Sullivan. The senior was on track to end his play one stroke behind his teammate, but double-bogeyed on the final hole, putting him at a 41 for the day. Also rebounding from their showing in Mingus' season opener was junior Orlando Machado. Machado finished with one more stroke than Sullivan.

"Ryan shot a 41, he double bogeyed the last whole," Mai said. "39 was the target score, so he cam up just short there. Orlando Machado played well. He struggled in his first match at home; he came back and played very well. He shot a 42, is what he ended up shooting. It was nice to see him play well."

Rounding out the rest of the scorecard was A.J. Valenzuela and Kylie Streck, who shot 46 and 48 respectively.

"(We) came up short for a team qualifier, but I was pleased with the results," Mai said. "It's a tough course our there in Page, at the Lake Powell National Golf Course. If you've played it a few times, its already ... its jus that there's blind shots and after sitting for four hours in a bus to drive up there, I was pleased. Obviously I would have like to see us play a little better, but overall, I was pleased with how everybody performed."

Now, as Mai said, the Marauders gear up for the ensuing schedule. After playing at Prescott Country Club against Bradshaw Mountain, Kingman and Page High Schools on Sept. 10, Mingus travels back to the Prescott area, to face off against Prescott, Page and Flagstaff High Schools for their two matches this week

"Now it's kind of like we're right in the middle of our season and now its time for everyone to step up and play well," Mai said. "We've got a couple of matches under our belts, now we can go out and just play golf."

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