Shortly after accomplishing the greatest achievement of his golfing life of 11 years, Thomas Whitten of Albuquerque sat down with Notah Begay III for an interview Tuesday at Twin Warriors Golf Club.
Whitten, who will be a sixth-grader at Begay’s alma mater, Albuquerque Academy, shot 1-for-145 (72-73) to win the boys’ title 10-11 by five shots at the New Mexico Regional. Whitten advances to compete in the Begay Boys’ National Junior Golf Championship at Koasati Pines at Coushatta in Kinder, Louisiana, Nov. 7-9.
Begay asked Whitten how he will know the Golf Channel will televise the national tournament.
“It’s going to be fun,” Whitten said. “It will probably make me nervous. But you just have to persevere through it.
Whitten is no stranger to perseverance, as he has shown such determination in each of his rounds. Whitten overcame the frustration and avoided sinking further after a quadruple bogey on the No. 17 in the first lap and another quadruple on the No. 11 in the second round.
“I had to bounce back from two quadruple bogeys, which is not like me at all,” Whitten said. “I just kept trying to hit the ball into the fairway, and I rolled really well.”
Whitten said qualifying for the national championship is his favorite achievement. He certainly has more because he has been busy lately.
He became the US Kids Golf Spring Regional Champion after winning four of six events in El Paso and Las Cruces.
Whitten also participates in baseball, swimming and tennis.
He was part of the All-Star Roadrunner Little League team that won his district and reached the state tournament. The baseball wins tested Whitten’s golf training schedule, but he was okay with it.
He loves baseball and golf the most.
“It’s so close,” he said after being asked which was his favorite. “I don’t know which is best.”
Whitten is one of eight stars on the Sandia Club team that will compete in the PGA Junior League Regionals Sept. 9-11 at Firewheel Golf Park in Garland, Texas.
He will focus much of his attention on the Begay Junior National Tournament.
“I want to win,” said Whitten, who was coached by John Mercer and Nick Knee. “It will be a lot of training, maybe every day.”
Jake Yrene, a rising junior at La Cueva High, will also compete in the Begay Junior National Tournament in the boys 10-11 division. He grabbed the second and last qualifying place to move forward.
Rylee Salome, Class 4A State Champion for Belen High, was the lowest ranked player in the state tournament and earned a berth to play in the Begay Junior National Championship at the same venue as the boys from 3-12. November 5.
JUNIOR WINNERS: Deming’s Vari Mariscal shot 11-under 133 (65-68) to win the Sun Country Junior Tour Championship Boys’ Division 16-18 on Sunday at New Mexico State University Golf Course in Las Cruces.
Yrene, shot 3 under 141 (72-69) to finish second.
Deming’s Riley Apodaca won the boys division 13-15, even shooting 144.
Lincoln Hoffer of Los Alamos won the Boys 10-12 and Noland Oswald or Roswell won the Boys 7-9.
Las Cruces’ Alex Armendariz shot 1-under 143 (69-74) to win the girls’ division 16-18. Salomé came second at under 3,147 (73-74). Alexis Reyes of El Paso was third at 6 of 150 (77-73).
El Paso’s Katleyn Stubbs shot 6 of 150 (77-73) to win the girls’ division 13-15.
Ariana Williams of Albuquerque won the girls 10-12 and Ali Laws of Farmington won the girls 7-9.
Notah Begay III Boys Junior Golf Championship, at Coushatta, Kinder, La., Golf Channel (tape delay)