By Dave Wagner
Travis Reid and the Clovis High boys golf team were close enough to Class 5A individual and team state championships last year that they could taste it.
The Wildcats had a five-stroke lead after the first day of state competition at Tanoan Golf Course in Albuquerque, but faded on the final 18 holes and finished third behind La Cueva and Eldorado.
They lost a tiebreaker to the Eagles for second place on the basis of fifth-man scores.
Reid finished in a three-way tie for individual medalist honors, but settled for third place after a bogey on the first playoff hole. “I still consider it a tie for first,” CHS boys coach George Simmons said.
“It motivates us more this year,” said Reid, who with fellow sophomore Guillermo Chavez have already been mainstays on the CHS squad for three seasons. “It makes us want it a little more.”
The Cats have won seven of the nine tournaments they’ve played this spring, finishing second to La Cueva in the season-opening Eldorado Invitational and placing third behind Class 4A Albuquerque Academy and La Cueva in the APS Invitational.
The Cats and La Cueva could be headed for a showdown for the state title, this time at Desert Lakes Golf Course in Alamogordo on May 12-13.
“We know we can beat them,” Reid said of the two-time defending state champion Bears. “We just have to stay focused for two days.”
Simmons said the 16-year-old Reid, who has played the sport about half his life, has shown marked improvement since teeing it up for the first time for the Cats as an eighth grader. Even with two years left in high school, he said he will encourage Reid to start considering potential colleges in the near future since many coaches start following players in their junior year.
“Travis has the talent to go Division I,” Simmons said. “He’s improved year by year. Fundamentally, he knows what he needs to do.”
He added that Reid is starting to learn how to handle bad shots and even bad rounds.
“Mentally, there’s still some improvement to be made, but I’ve seen a dramatic change in his attitude this year from last year,” Simmons said. “He’s very analytical how (pro) golfers carry themselves, and he’s getting a good perspective of what he needs to do.”
Reid, who said he rarely gets tired of playing golf, said Simmons and others have aided him in learning to deal with the mental aspects of the sport.
“I’ve improved a lot the last two years,” he said. “George has helped me a lot; he’s caddied for me in some summer events. He’s just gotten me going on the right track mentally.”
Having Chavez around has made both players better. In addition, they have probably helped other members of the team elevate their own play.
“It’s good that those two are so competitive with each other,” Simmons said. “They push each other to improve their game. Right now, Guillermo is not on the level that Travis is, but he’s not far behind.”