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Bonner shows well at U.S. Junior Am

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Bonner shows well at U.S. Junior Am

Ripon High standout golfer Andrew Bonner competes in a non-league dual match against Ripon Christian on March 15.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED July 22, 2011 1:27 a.m.

Andrew Bonner’s exhausting summer schedule is about to get busier.

But first, he is going to bask in his most recent performance.

The star golfer out of Ripon High is two days removed from being eliminated from the 64th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship at the Gold Mountain Olympic Course in Bremerton, Wash.

Bonner was knocked out in the first round of match play by Chelso Barrett of New Hampshire, but getting to that point was quite the achievement for the 16-year-old.

“It was the best experience I’ve ever had being in that tournament,” Bonner said Wednesday. “It’s the biggest junior amateur tournament in the United States.”

Bonner was the 58th-seeded qualifier in the 64-man match-play bracket. To advance, he had to overcome a rocky beginning in the two-day stroke-play portion of the event.

On Monday, he started on the 10th tee and found himself 5-over through five holes and finished his first nine with a 42. It took him a while to recover from a triple bogey on the par-5 11th hole, but for the round he ended up with a solid 6-over 78.

“That’s where I’ve gotten a lot better — my mental game,” Bonner said. “It carried me through the rest of the round. I don’t want to say I had a good round, but it was not a horrible round.

“It’s a very difficult course to play. If you’re going to miss, you have to do it at the right spots or you will definitely be penalized for it.

 “A 78 is my worst round of the summer, but that’s golf — you can’t play well every day.”

Things went more smoothly on Tuesday, when he finished the front nine at 2-under en route to a 74. Bonner barely advanced; the cutline was ended up at his two-day total of 152.

In match play he was paired with the seventh-seeded Barrett in the Round of 64, but Bonner wasn’t intimidated.

Bonner was 2 up going into the seventh hole, but after bogeying the ninth they were all square. He took his final lead on the 11th, but on the 205-yard par-3 12th Barrett birdied to knot it back up.

It came down to the 18th hole, where an unfortunate lip-out prevented Bonner from moving on.

On the 305-yard, par-4 hole, Bonner nearly buried a downhill 20-foot putt, but his ball lipped out and trickled past the hole another 5 feet. His run ended with an uncharacteristic three-putt, and Barrett escaped with a par.

“It was a little disappointing because I know I can play a lot better than that,” Bonner said. “But just to make it as far as I did, I’m pretty satisfied with that. It went from 156 golfers (in stroke play) to 64, and I was a part of the 64.

“I was playing against some of the best junior golfers in the world, so from that aspect I’m pretty happy with how I did. The fact that I did not play very well and still made the cut shows how much I’ve matured and that I can play with those guys.”

Bonner had already proven his worth before the U.S. Junior Amateur.

He is No. 4 among 14-17-year-old boys in the Junior Golf Association of Northern California after winning the 83rd Annual San Francisco Junior at Lincoln Park Golf Course on July 12-14 for the second straight year.

Bonner also won the Stockton Golf and Country Club Junior Classic, was the runner-up in the Insurance Brokers & Agents of Sacramento Junior Classic, and fifth in both the 32nd Annual Tokay Junior and JGANC Championship Match Play.

In short, the kid has been on fire since a regrettable end to his sophomore season for Ripon High’s golf team.

Back in mid-May, the two-time Most Valuable Player of the Trans Valley League was a part of a five-man playoff in the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament at The Reserve at Spanos Park.

There, 111 golfers vied for qualifying spots for the Northern California Golf Association/California Interscholastic Federation Tournament. In the end, it was East Union’s Will Brink who prevailed in the five-man playoff.

“After I missed the cut at Masters, I realized that I needed to practice harder,” Bonner said. “Up until that point I was just getting by. Now, I’m putting in all the effort and it’s showing. I feel that I’m definitely better than most of the other kids who were out there.”

To further concentrate his efforts in golf, Bonner has decided to give up on his second love — basketball. He played on Ripon High’s varsity squad as a freshman and sophomore.

Bonner’s focus on golf has surely paid dividends, with several NCAA Division-I college programs giving him a look. For now, he puts the University of the Washington at the top of the list of his potential landing spots.

“Basketball is not my best sport, I knew that I was not going anywhere with it,” Bonner said. “It was fun while it lasted, but at this point I have to decide what was best for me.”

So what’s next?

“A bunch of stuff,” he said.

On Monday, he leaves for Colorado to represent a team of Northern Californians in the America’s Cup. In the second week of August, he’ll be in San Jacinto in the California Boys State Championship North/South Cup. Then Bonner will return home for a day before heading out to Oregon for the Hogan’s Cup.

“It’ll be crazy the next couple of weeks, but I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

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