Torrey Pines’ Kench hits the winning putt

Phillip Kench birdies 18 to win San Diego Section boys golf championship


Phillip Kench will never forget his final shot of the San Diego Section CIF boys golf championship, making what he hoped would be his final shot of the tournament.

It was, but it turned out to be so much more for the first-round leader.

The junior at Torrey Pines had his final shot Wednesday, May 18, at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa roll around the lip of the last hole before finally falling in for a 3-under-par 69.

Combined with his first day score of 4-under 68, Kench, to his surprise, turned out to be the CIF individual champion.

Had he missed that shot, it would have created a tie for first place with Billy Davis of St. Augustine and Luke Potter of Classical Academy.

Instead, Kench won with that one heart-pounding shot.

“I didn’t know the last shot was for the win,” Kench said. “I thought I played well enough. I found out later how tense that shot was. I was pretty stoked when I found out about winning it all.”

Classical’s Kasper Verwers and San Pasqual’s Connor Williams tied for fourth with a 140, followed by Dylan Oyama of Pacific Ridge (fifth with a 142) and Jay Leng Jr. of Torrey Pines, Reed Arnaldo of La Costa Canyon and Cathedral’s Michael Riebe, tied with a 143.

Kench’s final day heroics included just three birdies, but very few bogies.

“I followed the game plan, which was keep balls in play and hit as many greens as possible,” Kench said. “Hit the greens and avoid bogies is a pretty good plan.”

Torrey Pines captured the Division I team title with a score of 726 while La Costa Canyon took Division II with a score of 753 and Bishop’s topped Division III with a score of 776.

“It’s always a thrill to win, to be in the mix,” Torrey Pines coach Chris Drake said. “The kids were fired up both days to have a full season wearing no masks and taking a shot at a true state title. This is just the first step.”

Torrey Pines, which cut off 18 strokes from its first day 367 for a 359 on Wednesday, May 18, and Classical Academy, with a score 746, advanced to the Southern California Championships, May 26 at Brookside Golf Club in Pasadena.

The State Championship is June 1 at San Gabriel Country Club.

The top 12 golfers not on Torrey Pines or Classical — Billy Davis (St. Augustine), Williams, Oyama, Riebe, Arnaldo, Dylan Hebert (La Costa Canyon), Rei Harashima (Eastlake), Luke Bailey (Santa Fe Christian), Jaden Huner (Canyon Crest), Justin Gill (San Marcos), Phenix Rivera (Santa Fe Christian) and Trevor Cox (Cathedral) — also advance to the SoCal Championships.

Davis had the best outing on the final day with a 5-under 67 with Potter next at 68.

Kench, who began playing when he was 3, has verbally committed to continue his golfing career after his senior season with UNLV.

Monahan is a freelance writer.