Welch sets personal highs

Rick White

Guillermo Chavez’ timing couldn’t be better.
With the district and state tournaments coming up in the next two weeks, the long-hitting Clovis junior is playing his best golf of the season.
Chavez fired his third-straight, sub-par round Thursday, a 1-under-par 70 to win the Clovis Triangular golf tournament.
His short birdie putt on No. 18 earned him a one-stroke win at Clovis Municipal Golf Course. Cutting the corner on the par-4, 364-yard hole dog-leg, Chavez drive landed in the green-side, grass bunker. He easily got up and down from there.
“The last three tournaments I’ve shot under par,” Chavez said. “I feel pretty good heading into the district tournament (Monday at Carlsbad).
“My putts are finally starting to drop.”
Chavez strung together three birdies over the final five holes en route to a 2-under 33 on the front side. He said he continued to putt well on the back nine, but couldn’t get anything to fall until the 18th hole.
Clovis senior Perry Jackson and Portales senior Kevin Welch finished a stroke back at 71 on a calm and sunny day that led to several personal and team bests.
Travis Reid added an 1-over 72 as Clovis took advantage of its home course to shoot a season-best 291.
“I expect them to shoot a good score here,” Clovis boys coach George Simmons said.
Welch led a season-best Portales effort that featured all five golfers in the 70s, including a career-best round of 76 by sophomore Matt Parkey.
“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Portales boys coach Greg Poynor said. “Our top three players have been consistent all year long. Now we’ve got the No. 4 (Parkey) and No. 5 (Trevor Ferguson) playing well, too.”
The Portales girls also shot their best round of the season, led by a career-best 84 by senior Roni Gomez and an 85 by senior Cassidy Merrick.
The Lady Rams, who have already qualified for state, finished at 358, 12 strokes better than their previous best, which was Tuesday at Hobbs.
“I think this time of year the kids can concentrate a little better because there’s not so much going on and the courses are in a little bit better shape,” Portales girls coach Brenda Gomez said.
“If we continue to improve, I really think we can do something at state.”
Portales has won three state golf titles.
Roni Gomez said she would like nothing better than to go out with a good showing at state.
“I’m really trying to step it up,” said the daughter of the Portales coach. “I really want to do good at state because it’s my last year and because this is the last time I’ll play with these girls.”
Led by season-best efforts from senior Susan Shelley (90) and freshman Whitney Jones (91), Clovis carded its best round of the season with a 380.
“I tell the girls what a good score it was but it’s kind of hard when they shoot like that and still get beat by 22 strokes,” Clovis girls coach Jeff Fontanilla said. “But we just have to take it a step at a time.”
Clovis Christian sophomore Mollie Peterson won the girls tournament, playing the last five holes at 2-under-par to finish with a career-best 83, one stroke better than Gomez.
Back-to-back birdies on the par-5 14th and 15th holes sparked her late surge.
Despite winning three of the four tournaments she’s played in this season, Peterson will not be going to the state tournament because Clovis Christian will not be eligible for district and state tournament until this fall.
“I really wish I could go to state,” said Peterson, the only girl in the Clovis Christian golf program.
She said practicing with the boys has made her a better player.
“They really push me a lot,” Peterson said. “My goal is to beat them.”