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Douthitt wins IVJGA's first summer tournament

June 30, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

BRAWLEY — When Tyler Douthitt walked onto Del Rio's golf course in Brawley on Friday to compete in the first tournament of the Imperial Valley Junior Golf Association's summer season, he was walking into something new even though he had been participating in the IVJGA's program for the past three years.

After competing in the majors division against players 11 to 13 years old, Douthitt, now 14, was ready to play in the champions division against players 14 to 18 years old.

The jump into the older-age division meant Douthitt, an incoming freshman at Southwest High School, would be battling some of the best high school golfers in the Imperial Valley.

Knowing what he was up against, Douthitt took to the course and walked away with the victory by defeating Southwest High's Matt Mouser, 18 and one of the Valley's best high schoolers, in a sudden death playoff.

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"I was kind of surprised with how I did. Coming into this tournament I thought I'd do well, but I really didn't expect this," said Douthitt. "I had pretty high expectations. … I really wanted to win this, but I just wasn't sure that would be able to happen because it was my first time playing with these older players."

Both players finished with 74s, which wasn't much of a surprise to those who know both players. But it was Douthitt's ability to compete on the same level as Mouser — who was named Imperial Valley League golfer of the year — that was the real surprise.

"Tyler has tremendous potential and he's really worked hard to get where he is, so for him to do as well as he did isn't much of a surprise," said Guy Yturralde, who runs the IVJGA. "But as far as him playing with Matt and taking him to sudden death, that really is (a surprise). But that's just golf. Things like that happen."

While Yturralde credited Douthitt's performance on the links, he did say the play of Mouser may not have been one of his better outings, saying Mouser did not play his A game.

Nonetheless, that does not take away from Douthitt's accomplishment.

"I knew Tyler could play. He's a good solid little player. When you go out there, you never doubt anyone no matter what their age," said Mouser, who's been competing in the IVJGA since its inception five years ago. "I know I could've played better, but you win some and you lose some. I can't dwell on this tournament."

If Friday's tournament is any indication of things to come, though, Douthitt could be a force to reckon with over the next five IVJGA events and in high school competition.

While he proved to be the best golfer on Friday, his play is a complete turnaround from what he did last season when he averaged 87s in IVJGA tournaments. If there's any one thing he points to as the difference from then and now it's his mental approach.

"I just choked last year. Last year I would go up to the tee and just hit the ball. I didn't really think about it a lot," said Douthitt. "Last year I didn't have the mental game. But now I'm stronger mentally, I have more confidence in myself and my attitude is a lot better."

Taking third place in the champions division was Brawley's Garrett Fargo shooting a 78.

Winning the majors division was James Shinn of El Centro carding a 76, followed by Luis Marquez with a 93 and Ivan Morales with a 95. Marquez and Morales both are from Mexicali.

Martin Salgado of Mexicali turned in a 41 to win the minors division followed by Mexicali's Cristhian Marquez with a 51.

The IVJGA will play at 8 a.m. Friday in the Terry Martin Memorial tournament at the Broken Spoke golf course in El Centro.

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