Varsity boys’ golf look ahead to state championship

Chaps dominate regional championship, turn towards state
The varsity boys’ golf team poses for a photo following their win in the regional championship Wednesday, April 17. The Chaps will go for a seventh consecutive state title in the state tournament the week of April 29.

Success has become a standard of the Chaps golf program in recent years. The team won a staggering 13 state championships between 1980 and 2023, and they are looking to take their seventh-straight this year. 

The Chaps continued their dominance with a win in the regional championship at the Golf Club of Texas from April 15-17. They raced out to a four stroke lead after the first day and fired 15-under across the tournament to run away with a win. Senior Grant Yerger led the way as he took home the individual championship with seven-under in three days. 

Yerger said the team showed “a lot of perseverance” after not starting the year off as strongly as they hoped. The Chaps will look to finish strong on April 29-30 at White Wing Golf Club in the state championship. They will compete against 72 other golfers from 23 high schools across the two days. 

“Other teams kind of thought we got worse this year,” Yerger said. “In the last couple weeks and months, our team’s gotten a lot better, and we made a statement [at regionals]. I know a lot of the guys are playing their best golf right now, and I’m excited for next week.”

Head coach Michael Rome took over the program this year from former head coach Callan Nokes, and he has picked up right where Nokes left off. Coming off of an illustrious golfing career at Westlake and UTSA, Rome inherited a program with a decorated history. 

“We obviously have a legacy, and it’s winning here,” Rome said. “It’s always been that way, so the game plan doesn’t really change. It doesn’t really matter what we’ve done in the past. It’s just all about what’s in the future.”

Rome has guided a championship-caliber team through ups and downs. The perseverance shown by the group has been a driving force of the success they have achieved this year. While a state championship is the end goal, the team has been focused on what’s in front of them all year. 

“We try not to look too far in the future,” Rome said. “It’s easy, as a golfer, to look at your score and look at what you want to accomplish. But if you can’t take care of what’s right there in front of you, it doesn’t really make a difference. We all know that we want to be state champions again, and that we want that ring and that medal at the end of the year, but we need to take care of what we’re doing right now. If we do that, everything else will take care of itself.”

The leadership of the captains, seniors Blake Burt and Yerger, has been important to helping develop the team throughout the year. The seniors on the team have stepped up and taken on a leadership role.

“I think it’s a cool opportunity,” Yerger said. “The leaders before us set the tone and taught us what the Westlake culture is and what our expectations are. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve switched roles as they left, and now it’s our job to lead the way.”

Pressure has been a mainstay for the team, yet they have dealt with the lofty expectations placed on them with ease. The standard that is always present in the program has helped them realize these expectations, and be able to move past them. 

“Knowing that we won six straight titles and going for seven has really taken off pressure because we all know what we are capable of,” junior Adam Villanueva said. “But there is definitely still pressure in dealing with the outside noise. It’s kind of in between for us as a team. We go into every tournament confident, knowing we will shoot a great score.”

Villanueva won state last year as a sophomore, and he is looking to repeat this year. He has been extraordinarily poised, and has enjoyed historic success in his few years as a Chap. Villanueva has fielded numerous division-one offers, and he is currently committed to the University of Texas. 

“The most impressive thing about Adam is the head on his shoulders,” Rome said. “He’s a great kid, on and off the golf course, and he has a great attitude. He just works his butt off every day.”

The Chaps tee off from 9:10-9:50 on Monday, April 29 and they enter the tournament as favorites to win yet another state championship. Teams like Lake Travis and Plano East will look to knock them off, but the Chaps have a chance to replicate their success and cement their dynasty.

“I just want to see us go out there and compete,” Rome said. “We don’t have to do anything special. We just need to play our game. We need to stick to our game plan, and we’ll just let the ball fall where it does at the end of the day.”

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