Despite some early struggles with striking the ball to his liking, Michael Mozilo found relief with his wedge.
After having some difficulty attacking the greens during part of the Mission League individual final on Thursday at River Ridge Golf Club in Oxnard, the St. Francis High junior golfer had to scramble to find another way to extend his season.
The wedge proved to make a huge difference, as Mozilo carded a two-over-par 72 to finish with a two-round score of 152 to take third in the event.
“It turned out the wedge really helped me out,” said Mozilo, who opened the tournament Tuesday with a six-over-par 78 at Lakewood Golf Club and will next advance to the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament on Monday at River Ridge. “The front nine was the hardest because I hit only two greens in regulation.
“I needed to switch some things up and the wedge helped me. I had a birdie on the par-five fifth hole and I was able to then relax. It was a grind, but I felt comfortable and didn’t feel too much pressure.”
The top seven finishers from the field of 25 advanced to the CIF Southern Section Individual Tournament. Mozilo was the lone Golden Knight to move on, though St. Francis will take part in the CIF Southern Section Central Team Divisional on May 19 at Lakewood after finishing second in league behind Loyola on Tuesday in the league final.
Josh Krutchik of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame had a 75 on Thursday and won the championship with a 148. Harvard-Westlake’s Brandon Kewalramani took second with a 74 to place second at 150.
St. Francis second-year Coach Kyle Ostrom, the reigning All-Area Boys’ Golfer of the Year, said Mozilo persevered during the last half of his round.
“He missed some greens, which is unusual for him,” said Ostrom, who led the Golden Knights to a second-place finish in league and a sixth-place effort in the team divisional last season. “He was able to get up and down for par and make some big shots to get him back into things.
“I’m excited for him going into Monday’s round. He already knows the course. I think he will be confident going into that round being a year older and wiser.”
Unfortunately for St. Francis, none of its other players will join Mozilo, who earned the last of nine qualifying spots by winning a three-player playoff in the league final last season.
Stian Lindvedt registered a 78 to finish at 158 for the Golden Knights, who got a 78 from Jack Finney (159). Johnny Brandt of St. Francis carded a 77 to end up at 160 and teammate Nathan Han recorded an 82 to finish at 162.
“It would have been nice to have gotten some more players to keep going,” Ostrom said.
Follow Charles Rich on Twitter: @TCNCharlesRich .