Sports

Three county high schoolers sink hole-in-one

Claire Oetinger got her second hole-in-one in seven months, April 10 at Riverside Golf Course during the first round of the Len Ross Memorial Golf Tournament.
Claire Oetinger got her second hole-in-one in seven months, April 10 at Riverside Golf Course during the first round of the Len Ross Memorial Golf Tournament. File Photo

Yosemite High School junior Claire Oetinger has done it again - for the second time in her young golf career, Oetinger made a hole-in-one April 10 at Riverside Golf Course during the first round of the 70th Annual Len Ross Memorial Golf Tournament.

It was the first time Oetinger had played since the Badgers won a 12th consecutive North Sequoia League title back in November, and she was named MVP of the league for the second time.

She accomplished the feat on the par three, 137-yard 11th hole. As she was putted-out on the 10th hole, Oetinger heard that Jack Wright, a Chowchilla High golfer, had hit his first ever hole-in-one on No. 11.

“I remember thinking when I came up to the tee box on No. 11 that it would be funny if I got a hole-in-one on the same hole right after Jack,” Oetinger said.

Moments later with one swing of her seven iron, she repeated her feat for the second time.

Oetinger, 16, got her first hole-in-one on Sept. 21, on the par three, 134-yard 7th hole at Pheasant Run Golf Course in Chowchilla, with a seven iron.

“I couldn’t see the green from the tee box, so I didn’t see the ball go in the cup, but the foursome ahead of us yelled out that it went in,” Oetinger explained. “At the time I didn’t know what to think - I was kind of in shock. I remember raising my arms up but I didn’t say a word.”

Oetinger finished the tournament in 14th place out of 31 players in the girls division, with rounds of 84, 87, 79 and 89.

Oetinger said at the time of her first hole-in-one that she never made getting one a goal because it’s not realistic, as they’re usually only possible on one or two holes on most golf courses.

“I never approach the tee box on par threes thinking I want to get a hole-in-one,” Oetinger said. “I always approach the tee box on par threes thinking I want to get a good first shot on the green to have the chance to get a birdie with one putt.”

Wallace gets his first hole-in-one

On the second day of the four-day tournament, Connor Wallace, a junior at Glacier High School, got his first career hole-in-one on 215-yard, par three 7th hole at Fig Garden Golf Course. Wallace was featured in a Sierra Star article in the March 17, 2016 edition.

“I knew I hit a good three iron and it looked close but I didn’t expect it to go in the hole,” Wallace said. “I didn’t believe it until I actually walked up to the green and saw it in the hole. It helped my round for the day and the tournament for me.”

Wallace also finished in 14th place out of 69 in the boys division, with rounds of 84, 74, 72 and 75.

Wallace was also awarded the prestigious Boys Sportsmanship Award for exhibiting honor and respect for the game of golf and his fellow competitors.

Two additional boys from the Yosemite High golf team, Spencer Uzzell and Michael Steiler, also played in the tournament. Uzzell, a Yosemite High senior and two-time MVP in the North Sequoia League, placed 28th with rounds of 81, 85, 75, 78.

The tournament is one of the oldest in the state, played over four days on four different courses, and usually attracts elite high school golfers from Northern California.

Len Ross, a former Fresno Unified teacher and administrator, was known for opportunities he provided young golfers as the director of the tournament that bears his name. A founding father of the Junior Golf Association of Northern California, Ross passed away on Feb. 13 at the age of 96. He was the tournament director of his own event for many years. The event used to be called the Fresno City Junior Golf Tournament Amateur Championship tournament for many years, with Ross serving as director. The tournament was renamed to the Len Ross Memorial Golf Tournament some time ago.

Ross was the founder the Northern California Junior Golf Association and was named to the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983 for his then “50-year commitment to junior golf.”

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