With Four Of Its Six Golfers Under Par, De La Salle Delivered Perhaps One Of The Most Dominant North Coast Section Championship Performances Ever •
UPDATED ON MAY 24
Joey Hayden was the one.
As the only member of the De La Salle High golf team to have teed it up at the last North Coast Section Championships in 2019, Hayden was the one golfer who could truly show up at Lone Tree Golf Course on May 16 with a goal of defending a title.
And did he ever.
Hayden birdied his opening hole — the 422-yard, par-4 No. 7 — to jumpstart a dazzling round of 65 on the Antioch course. It was a round that would earn him top medalist honors and help lead the Spartans to back-to-back NCS titles, setting them up for a postseason run that now includes a CIF/NCGA NorCal Title and a trip to the state tournament at San Gabriel Country Club on June 2.
“I asked him when he finished today, ‘How’d it feel?,’” De La Salle coach Jim Collins said of Hayden. “And he said, ‘I just wanted more.’ That’s what I try to tell these kids. If you get to 1-under, try to get to 2 and 3. Don’t put on the brakes; just keep going. Trust your swing. Trust your putting stroke, and think positive.”
It’s clear the Spartans golfers are listening.
Of De La Salle’s six golfers in the NCS field, four of them finished in red numbers. Hayden, junior Jack Jerge, sophomores Jaden Dumdumaya and Colin Keith, and freshman Joshua Kim combined for a five-golfer score of 346. That’s a collective 14-under par.
“This is a number that has won NCAA Championships,” tournament director Steve Sloper told the crowd that gathered for the awards ceremony. “It’s really remarkable.”
The 346 is the lowest team score for an NCS champion since the section began counting five golfers instead of four in 2003. Meanwhile, Hayden’s 65 was the lowest individual round in an NCS Championship tournament since 2013 when Montgomery-Santa Rosa’s Nick Rogers shot the same number at Rooster Run Golf Club in Petaluma.
“I just got off to a good start (on Hole 7),” Hayden said. “I put a wedge within three feet to set up a birdie. I’ve really been working hard on my wedge game, and it paid off today. Mainly it was pretty steady golf. No bogeys and took advantage of the par 5s.”
Dumdumaya experienced quite a different type of round. The sophomore began his day on Hole 2 and opened with 14 straight pars.
“It wasn’t something I was having a good time with,” the sophomore said. “I missed a lot of birdie putts on those holes. But I finished pretty good.”
Dumdumaya went 3-under over his last four holes, which included a birdie on the 303-yard, par-4 No. 18 after landing his drive on the green.
“Mentally, I was pretty strong,” Dumdumaya said. “I didn’t really give up during that stretch when there was nothing going on. … Perseverance is one of my biggest things. I think mental strength today was probably my strong point.”
The sophomore has no shortage of strong points, as evidenced by a sparkling spring for the already massively decorated junior golfer. He won a national Drive, Chip & Putt title in the Boys 14-15 division — at Augusta National during Masters Week. He also passed the first round of U.S. Open Qualifying by finishing second at Ruby Hill Golf Club in Pleasanton the week before the NCS Championship.
“I’ve been coaching golf for a long time,” Collins said. “I’m a 30 year life member for the PGA of America. I’ve seen a lot of kids hit good golf shots. The way (Jaden) strikes a ball is possibly the best I’ve ever seen.”
Hayden had no problem heaping similar praise toward the Spartans’ No. 1 golfer.
“He’s been putting up good numbers for years now,” the senior said. “He’s just a sophomore and it’s going to be really exciting to watch him as he progresses even more. … He’s got no weak spots.”
As the scores slowly posted at Lone Tree Golf Course, there were a number of competitors left saying the same thing about the Spartans as a whole.
Hayden’s 65 was joined by under-par rounds of 69 from Dumdumaya, 68 by Jerge and 71 by Kim. Colin Keith was the fifth golfer to score with a 1-over 73 and senior Cameron Keith had his 75 scratched.
“The other two guys got to walk home,” Collins said with a laugh. “That’s kind of our team rule. If you don’t shoot under par, you’ve got to catch the bus.”
This is Collins’ first year running the program after former coach Terry Eidson retired after last spring.
“When Coach Eidson said ‘I think you’ve got to take it over,’ I said ‘OK.’ There wasn’t much hesitation,” the coach said. “I knew the cupboard was full. … Our team is just very deep. Any of the other four golfers on the roster could’ve played here today, and they are probably not happy with me for the fact that they aren’t here.”
That depth was certainly evident during the EBAL season which saw the Spartans rack up a 15-2 record in dual matches.
Collins only made one tweak to the starting six for the CIF/NCGA NorCal Championships tournament on May 23 at Berkeley Country Club. Senior Ted Davenport got the start and carded a 2-over 74, the same as Hayden and Jerge. NorCals would belong to Dumdumaya, who shot a 6-under 66 to help pace the Spartans. Kim also finished under par with a 70, and Colin Keith had a 73.
The team finished with a 3-under composite of 357 — 16 strokes ahead of second-place Foothill-Pleasanton.
Following NCS, Hayden was confident the team was set up for a strong postseason run.
“It’s just a super motivated team right now,” Hayden said. “We’re going to keep working hard during this upcoming week and come out (for NorCals) with the same mindset we did today.”
For Dumdumaya, who has been experiencing individual success at such a high clip over the last year, the team element has been extremely refreshing and rewarding during these last few months.
“It’s not just you, you have to count on others,” the sophomore phenom said. “You’re not thinking about yourself, but the team. It’s something that I’m passionate about. All of us are impacting each other in a positive way.”
There’s no more positive way than leading one another to NorCal and state titles. Besides, nobody will want to find their own way home from San Gabriel next month.