Nearly two dozen high school golfers, boys and girls, from The Laker/Lutz News Coverage area competed in the 2017 Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) state tournament, which ran Oct. 31 to Nov. 8
Sunlake High’s Jordan Sarhaddi was one of the standouts.
The junior tied for 16th in the 2A boys meet, shooting a +13 (75-82—157) at El Campeon Course at the Mission Inn Resort & Club in Orlando.
Only two other golfers from The Laker/Lutz News coverage area secured top 20 finishes: Freedom High senior Cy Storlien, who tied for 14th in the boys 3A tournament, and Freedom High junior Helena Noel, who tied for 17th in the girls 3A tournament. Both were individual qualifiers.
Sarhaddi’s strong showing at states is no surprise.
He took first place at districts and runner-up at regionals — firing 69 at both meets.
The state tournament, however, presented unique challenges.
There were elevation changes of more than 80 feet, cumbersome wind conditions and fast, complex greens.
Simply, the course “exposes every part of your game,” Sarhaddi said.
“The course was playing real difficult. There are not many low scores out there,” said Sarhaddi.
“I feel like I played better than my score showed both days, but it’s a tough golf course,” he said.
Sarhaddi last reached states as a freshman in 2015, where he finished 30th after shooting +30 over par.
Scores aside, Sarhaddi savored the chance to test his skill set and compete alongside his Sunlake teammates at the state meet.
The Seahawks finished 12th out of 16 teams in 2A.
“It’s definitely fun whenever you get to go with the guys who you’ve spent the entire season with and have practiced with them. You set your goals at the beginning of the season and this is what we wanted — we wanted to make it to states,” Sarhaddi said.
“We made it a lot of fun. It’s a great group of guys that we have, and they’re all fun to be around,” he added.
The state meet caps off what’s been a breakout campaign for Sarhaddi in 2017.
The Land O’ Lakes resident currently ranks fourth on the Premier Junior Golf Tour in the boys 16-18 division, with first place finishes at the St. Petersburg Country Club Junior Championship in May and the Crescent Oaks Junior Open in February.
He also ranks 13th on the Florida Junior Tour in the boys 16-18 division, earning several top 20 finishes at sanctioned tournaments over the summer.
Those performances have since caught the eye of Division I college programs, including the University of Florida and the University of Central Florida.
Sarhaddi, meanwhile, is gearing up for another busy offseason and a daily practice schedule that consists of countless hours of swing drills and short game work.
“I’m definitely going to stick with it. I’m going to keep the practice schedule going everyday and just really try to better myself — work harder with the practice, do everything I can to take care of my body and my golf swing,” Sarhaddi said.
“In the summer, I’ll try to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur and the U.S. Amateur. I really had a great summer this past summer, so I’m just really going to try to build on it and work up for the bigger tournaments coming up.”
Besides Sunlake, other local schools represented at states included Pasco High School (boys), Steinbrenner High School (girls) and Zephyrhills High School (girls). Wiregrass Ranch High freshman Norah Catlin was an individual qualifier in the 3A girls meet.
Additional Q&A with Sunlake’s Jordan Sarhaddi
On favorite moment from this past season:
“Regionals was probably the best that I shot, just because that even though I shot a 69, I started off much worse there, and I had to really fight back. I think I was 3 over par through six holes, and I really fought back. That was probably the best 69 I’ve ever shot as far as how I was playing because I really wasn’t playing that great, but I was able to scratch and claw, and make a few birdies coming in. …That was probably the best one because the stakes were the highest, too. We needed a good score to actually make it to states, which has been the goal the entire year.”
On his biggest golf strength:
“My short game has really been good for me the past three or four years because I’ve learned to salvage good rounds out of not playing so well— not hitting the ball as well as I know I can— but still being able to grind out pars and shoot decent scores, knowing I can rely on my short game even though I’m not hitting it great. I just know my own game. That’s one of my strengths as well, just knowing my own game and knowing how to almost outplay my competitors. Even when I’m not hitting as well as they are, I know when the right moments are to come up clutch with a par save or something. That’s where I’ve really leaned on my short game, and I work on that really hard because it’s saved me many times, and it will continue to do so probably in the future.”
On what he’s looking to improve:
“I haven’t always been the most consistent ball striker as far as getting it to the green. Usually my iron play is a bit off, which exactly what was off at states, which is why I struggled in the last round.”
On which pro golfer he idolizes:
“My favorite ever is Tiger Woods. He’s always been the grinder, and he’s always known how to win and to close out tournaments. That’s the kind of player I try to be. I don’t think there’s anyone that I try to model my game after, but he’s definitely someone I look up to as far as what I’d like to be and what I’d like to do, if I do end up making it pro. That’s someone to really follow as a role model for what he’s done on the golf course.”
2017 FHSAA state golf meet results
Cy Storlien, senior, Freedom High School (Tied 14th) 71-81—152
Individual qualifier (s)
Helena Noel, junior, Freedom High School (Tied 17th) 77-74—151
Norah Catlin, freshman, Wiregrass Ranch (Tied 26th) 81-74—155
Steinbrenner Warriors—8th place 328-337—665
Anna Jansen, senior (Tied 39th) 77-84—161
Alexis Castillo, sophomore (Tied 48th) 79-88—167
Posie Farrelly, freshman (Tied 52nd) 88-80—168
Lindsey Kolano, senior (58th) 85-86—171
Mckenzie Kane, freshman (Tied 62nd) 87-87—174
Sunlake Seahawks—12th place (349-365—714)
Jordan Sarhaddi, junior (Tied 16th) 75-82–157
Damian Rhule, senior (Tied 38th) 83-82–165
Max Barile, freshman (Tied 54th) 81-91–172
Drew Taylor, senior (91st) 110-122–232
Colton Billet, sophomore (93rd) 126-110–236
Pasco High School—15th place (361-383—744)
Gabriel Fleck, senior (Tied 62nd) 89-87–176
Cole Darbyshire, junior (66th) 84-94—178
Christian Nieves, junior (Tied 80th) 90-101—191
Cade Darbyshire, senior (Tied 85th) 98-101—199
TJ Floberg, freshman (92nd) 117-117—234
Zephyrhills Bulldogs—16th place (438-437—875)
Emillie Alderman, junior (51st): 89-94–183
Hannah Sullivan, junior (76th): 111-107–218
Sydney Baldus, junior (87th): 117-118–235
Kenzi Ennis, senior (Tied 89th): 121-118–239
Ashley Regan, junior (95th): 143-122–265
Published November 8, 2017