Dazen photo

St. Augustine Prep junior Cody Dazen, at Blue Heron Pines Golf Club in Galloway Township on Monday, won the Cape-Atlantic League individual and Carl Arena/Al Rifkin Memorial titles this spring. He is the 2012 Press Player of the Year.

Ben Fogletto

Cody Dazen isn’t the first golfer to spend countless hours on the course.

It’s completely normal for a golfer to become good friends with a bucket of golf balls during the season.

Bad round?

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Head to the range and iron out the kinks.

That’s common.

Part of what separates Dazen from the average golfer is that he works just as hard, if not harder, when things are going well.

The Prep junior won the Cape-Atlantic League individual and Carl Arena/Al Rifkin Memorial titles and held a sub-par 35.4 nine-hole average, tops in the CAL.

Dazen is the 2012 Press Player of the Year.

“I practice hard,” Dazen said. “When you’re hitting it good, you want to keep feeding (yourself) good information. I don’t slack off when I’m playing well because I want to keep playing well.”

Whatever Dazen did worked.

He was dominant in team matches in leading the Prep to the CAL American Conference title.

Dazen was even better in tournaments —

especially in the first week of May.

Dazen won the CAL individual title with a 1-under-par 69 on May 1 at Atlantic City Country Club. Two days later Dazen won the Arena with a 1-under 71 at Running Deer Golf Club.

He finished second at the Galloway Challenge at Galloway National on April 10.

Dazen took fourth in the South Non-Public A tournament to qualify for the Tournament of Champions and then finished second in the state Non-Public A tourney and 12th overall with a 75 at the TOC.

“He’s the real deal,” Prep coach Len Dolson said. “He’s nonstop golf. Every weekend he’s playing in some kind of tournament or something so he’s definitely motivated. He’s a hard worker.”

Dazen is an unassuming, mild-mannered player who borders on obsessive with the amount of time he puts into the game and how analytical he is.

“I’m pretty tough on myself,” Dazen said. “I think I’m hard on myself because I have seen how well I can play and I strive to be better. When I play well I have that benchmark and then I feel like I should always play that well.”

Dazen has already been active in youth tournaments and plans on playing throughout the summer. He wants to play in college and has already starting receiving interest from schools.

“Consistency is what everybody strives for,” Dazen said. “I’m hoping to take that straight into the summer. Hopefully I’ll build upon it and see how well I play.”

Team of the Year

The Middle Township High School golf team lost one Hicks and added another.

Everything else stayed the same.

Middle Township had its second straight unbeaten season (18-0) en route to the CAL National Conference and South-Central Jersey Group II titles.

The Panthers, who finished second among Group II teams at the TOC in a playoff, are the Team of the Year.

“It was an unbelievable year,” Middle coach Will Mendo said. “The kids went out there and they did it. They didn’t rest on their laurels. You still have to go out there and hit the shots and they did.”

Standout freshman David Hicks (younger brother of three-time Press Player of the Year Alex Hicks) and Kevin O’Donnell had identical 36.0 nine-hole averages, best in the CAL National.

Senior captain James Kelly was third with a 36.4 and John Longstreet fifth with a 39.2.

Mike Ciaramella (40.3) and Ryan Burke (41.3) were also in the top 15 in the conference.

“The way they carried themselves made me especially proud,” Mendo said. “They represented their school and they represented what we stand for as a team and that made us very, very proud.”

Middle will enter next season on a 38-match winning streak.

Coach of the Year

Vineland lost its first match of the season.

That was the only time all season the team would have a losing record.

Press Coach of the Year Michael Brosh and the Fighting Clan won their next eight matches en route to a 19-3 record.

“I told the kids to take it one match at a time,” Brosh said. “We won (eight) in a row and never looked back.”

It was the first time in Brosh’s first five seasons the team qualified for the South-Central Jersey Group IV tournament.

“It was magical,” Brosh said. “It was just so much fun working with the kids and seeing their enthusiasm.”

The team won only two matches in each of his first two seasons and opened last season with seven straight losses.

“It’s always nice to win,” Brosh said. “We haven’t experienced that in a while.”

Brosh returns most of his team next season.

Vineland and Mainland Regional should again be St. Augustine’s top challengers in the CAL American next season.

“Our kids are hungry,” Brosh said. “We’re excited for next year. We hope to be a player (in the conference) again next year.”

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