Golf: St. Augustine's Cody Dazen wins Arena tournament
Cody Dazen wasn't satisfied with just one golf title this week.
The St. Augustine Prep junior followed up his Cape-Atlantic League individual win on Tuesday with the Carl Arena/Al Rifkin Memorial championship on Thursday.
Dazen topped the 208-player field by shooting a 1-under-par 71 at Running Deer Golf Club in Pittsgrove Township.
Absegami's Kasey Frazier won the girls title in a two-hole playoff and Middle Township, the No. 3 team in The Press Elite 11, finished second in the team race behind Cherokee.
"I am definitely feeling confident about my game and confidence is big," Dazen said.
Just as he did on Tuesday, Dazen got off to a slow start Thursday with a bogey on the first hole he played.
But once again Dazen pulled away from the field on the back nine with three birdies over his final seven holes.
Dazen became the first player to win the CAL and the Arena in the same season since three-time Press Player of the Year Alex Hicks of Middle Township did in 2008.
The Arena, unlike the CALs, has a morning flight and an afternoon flight and the Prep played in the afternoon.
When Dazen teed off in the afternoon, a 73 already had been posted on the leaderboard.
"I really didn't know how close it was," Dazen said. "Today it was just a little bit of a contrast because I was all to myself. I was just trying to post as low a number as I could and hoping it would hold up.
"I can't control what they do. I can only control what I do and I don't like setting a number in my head either. I like sticking to my own game and the present shot and doing the best I can."
Frazier and Rancocas Valley's Kelsey Solan each shot 79s and headed to a sudden-death playoff. The two have played together in youth circuits and Frazier said they go back and forth.
Frazier, who will play next season at NCAA Division II Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, found a sand trap with her drive on each playoff hole but still managed to pull out the win.
"I hadn't hit a sand trap all day and then I hit three in two holes," Frazier said with a laugh.
After Solan hit her drive in the middle of the fairway on the second playoff hole, Frazier's tee shot found a trap 125 yards from the flag along the left side of the fairway.
Frazier stepped up and hit a 9-iron to within 10 feet.
She didn't know how good the shot was until she walked up to the green.
"I was so nervous," Frazier said. "I was almost shaking I was so nervous. Walking up (to the green), I just told myself to calm down. I just kind of stepped up and told myself to do it."
Solan missed her putt, setting up Frazier's winner.
"My jaw dropped," Frazier said. "I just stood there. The whole way walking back (to the clubhouse), I couldn't stop smiling. I was so happy to make it. It was the greatest feeling ever."
Middle Township finished tops among the 13 area schools in the tournament despite having an off-day by its standards.
Senior James Kelly and freshman standout David Hicks each carded 78s to finish tied for ninth.
Middle finished two shots back of Cherokee for the team title.
"We're a little disappointed, but we know there are better things out there," Middle coach Will Mendo said. "We're still looking at (the) South Jerseys and we think we have a good chance of winning Group II states.
"It makes me feel good that my kids are unhappy with second because it shows that my kids are hungry. They know we could have done better and that makes us better."
Contact John O'Kane:
Top 10 and ties
1. Cody Dazen, St. Augustine Prep 71
2 (tied). Kwon, Cherry Hill East 73; Russo, Washington Township
4. Arsenault, Shawnee 74
5 (tied). Singer, Seneca 76; Devany, Cherokee 76
7 (tied). Greg Szrom, EHT 77; Park, Cherry Hill East 77
9 (tied). John Petronis, Mainland Regional 78; Lafferty, Cherokee 78, Sarlo, Burlington Township 78; David Hicks, Middle Township 78; James Kelly, Middle Township 78
14 (tied). Kasey Frazier, Absegami 79 (won the girls title)
17 (tied). Dom DiGiacomo, Ocean City 80; Blake Vogdes, Wildwood Catholic 80
25 (tied). Cody Freese, Vineland 81