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AOW: Valenzuela closes IVJGA season with bang

August 14, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

El Centro's Anthony Valenzuela has spent almost half his life on the golf course and his time there is definitely paying off.

Valenzuela, a 13-year-old student at Wilson Junior High in El Centro, fired a 78 to claim the majors division title at the Imperial Valley Junior Golf Association's final tournament of the summer Friday at the Del Rio Country Club in Brawley.

"I was very confident I would win," Valenzuela said. "I'd played the kids before and they're good, but I beat them. I just felt really confident going in that I could win."

The tournament was not only the final IVJGA event of the summer, it was Valenzuela's final time competing in the majors division. Next year he will move up and play in the championship class. It is a move he is looking forward to.

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"I've played in the championship flight once or twice," he said. "They beat me, but it's fun to play with the older kids and see how they hit the ball."

Playing with older competition is something Valenzuela thinks has helped his game. He regularly plays with IVJGA championship flight golfers Haro and Beau Carson at Broken Spoke Country Club in El Centro.

"Ivan gave me a few pointers when I started," he said. "It's helped a lot. Anything I've done wrong, they've told me and I fixed it."

Valenzuela began golfing when he was 7 years old. He started playing because he thought the game looked like fun. He quickly learned it was harder than it appeared.

"It was a little harder than I thought it would be," he said. "I thought you just hit the ball, but you have to focus. I went to the range and got my swing down and then went out and played."

Valenzuela, who says driving is the strongest part of his game, has never had a golf lesson. He hopes to go to college someday on a golf scholarship and ultimately hopes to join the PGA tour.

For now he will stick to playing golf and having a lot of fun.

"It's a fun sport to play," he added. "It's fun hitting the ball. That's the best part, I think."

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