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Boys Golfer of the Year: Garrison Chavez had redeeming senior season

It was enough to make Garrison Chavez sick, except that he already was.

Chavez, then a junior at Liberty, missed out on qualifying for the CIF Southern Cal Regional Golf Championships by one stroke last year after battling illness for several days leading up to the Central Section qualifier.

“I was in bed for three days,” Chavez said. “It just hurt, because I had been playing so well, but physically my body just wasn’t in the right place.”

The way Chavez, responded, however, is why his senior season ends with him being named the BVarsity Boys Golfer of the Year.

He tied for the Southwest Yosemite League lead (with Stockdale’s Dheer Patel) with a 75.0 stroke average, then finished second with a 73 in the area championships, and his even-par 72 at the section finals tied Chavez for fourth and made him the only Kern County golfer to reach the regionals.

“I just kind of wanted to go out with a bang my senior season, and I put in the work so that I could trust my game so that when I got on the golf course, I just had fun,” Chavez said.

It helped that he used the winter to bulk up in the weight room, a routine that Chavez said helped him add about 15 yards to every shot on the course.

“He bought into working out and training his body,” Liberty coach Kirk Bowyer said. “He gained a lot of length off the tee. His strength has always been his wedges and his short game, so those two things in combination worked well for him.”

Chavez’s other strategy involved a little mental manipulation.

“Instead of going into each tournament worried about putting up a number, I imagined I was playing with my brother (Liberty graduate and former All-Area golfer Christian Chavez),” Garrison Chavez said. “We’re very competitive with each other, and I just brought that same competitive level to keep me focused on every hole.”

The result was a season in which Chavez shot worse than 80 just once.

“In golf, the biggest thing is consistency, and he was the most consistent in our area,” Bowyer said. “Elimination of the big numbers is huge. I talk all the time about double bogeys; a lot of times you can’t make enough birdies in an 18-hole high school tournament to make up for a double or triple bogey, so you just have to avoid mistakes.”

Chavez did that all year, including in the regional, where he didn’t make a birdie but still shot a respectable 79 with 11 pars and seven bogeys.

“Early in the round, he had a couple of birdie putts lip out, but he was very, very consistent,” Bowyer said. “In the big spots, he really stepped it up all year.”

And that regional performance gives Chavez a big feather in his cap before he heads off to play at Taft College next year.

“My brother went to regionals, and he always holds that over me,” he said. “Now I can say I went to the same place, so he can’t say he’s better than me.

“I was close last year, and I just felt like it was my time. It couldn’t have ended up more perfect for it to happen my senior year.”

Zach Ewing can be reached at 661-395-7324. Follow him on Twitter at @zewing.

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