Birdie blitz propels Wildcats

Clovis High School senior Guillermo Chavez watches his putt on the back nine during the Clovis Invitational Golf Tournament on Thursday at Clovis Municipal Golf Course. Chavez shot a 71 to win. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

The Clovis High boys golf team struggled to get going Thursday, finding its stride in the nick of time.

Travis Reid had four birdies and Guillermo Chavez three over the final five holes, and the Wildcats eked out a three-stroke victory over Portales with a four-man total of 304 in the Clovis Invitational at Municipal Golf Course.

Hobbs rolled to the girls team championship with a score of 356, 40 shots ahead of the runnerup Lady Wildcats. The Clovis girls fell eight strokes short in its bid to earn a third and final leg to qualify for state.

Reid and Chavez, both seniors who have played varsity since eighth grade, are looking forward to postseason and trying to win their first Class 5A state team championship.

“It was tough out there,” said Chavez, whose even-par 71 was the day’s best score. “I struggled through most of my round.

“I think everybody had a tough time today. It was just one of those rounds.”

Reid, the defending Class 5A state individual champion, finished at 2-over 73. Disappointed with his putting, he went back out after the tourney to work on that aspect of his game.

Also for the Cats, senior Blake Berry shot a 77, junior Jordan Moore came in at 83 and eighth-grader Tyler Fontenot finished at 88.

Clovis squads actually made up half of the eight-team boys field, which also included Portales’ junior varsity. Lovington finished third in team standings at 317 while Clovis Christian, led by senior Corey Hastings’ 87, came in at 369.

Chavez said that while he didn’t play that badly, he struggled to get anything going.

“I was hitting the ball OK,” he said. “I just hit a few bad shots. Probably my chipping cost me a few strokes today.”

CHS boys coach George Simmons was a bit disappointed the Cats didn’t shoot a little better on their home course, but he realizes there are bigger fish to fry.

“I know these guys are anxious for the state tournament,” Simmons said. “To claim a state title would really be something for the seniors.

“Anything can happen at the state tournament. You just have to take it one day at a time and hope the results are in our favor.”

The Cats have had leads with Reid and Chavez a couple of times after the first day at state, but haven’t been able to hang on. They do, however, own a 10-stroke tournament win over four-time defending 5A champion La Cueva in the APS Invitational earlier this spring.

“In my opinion, we’re the team to beat this year,” Chavez said. “I think it’s our tournament to lose.

“If we go up there and put four good scores together for two days, I think we’ll be tough to beat.”

Sophomore Amanda Estes earned her first state leg with a 93 for the Lady Cats, but girls coach Jeff Fontanilla had hoped the team could get a third leg and qualify.

The Lady Cats have one more chance today, Fontanilla said, in a triangular at Farwell with Clovis Christian.

“Today, the girls struggled; they were nervous,” he said. “Yesterday I pretty much put it on them. It was our home course, and I thought if there was a time we were going to do it, today was the day.”