Boy, 12, wins Quail golf tourney against big guys
Last weekend, something unheard of happened in local sports: A 12-year-old – playing with no handicap – won the Quail Valley Golf Club championship, beating out seasoned, veteran players and even a golfer who played in the 2012 U.S. Senior Open.
“I was definitely the underdog with low expectations. But I just wanted to try,” said Carter Dalili, a sixth grader at Gifford Middle School.
Late Thursday afternoon, internist Curtis Dalili and son Carter were practicing on the Quail Valley course for the weekend event.
The father had already – somewhat sheepishly, he says – asked if his youngster could play in the tournament, with dad as caddy. The response from the club: Sure he can play with a handicap, teeing off from the blue tees.
But as they played the course one day before the tournament began, Carter asked if they could play from the gold tees farther back.
“I was skeptical. But I watched him and saw that it was working out,“ said dad Curtis.
That night, Curtis sent an e-mail to tournament organizers that began, “This may seem presumptuous....” Then, he asked if Carter could play from the gold tees.
The reaction the next morning as the tournament began was that it was good to see a kid giving it a whirl.
While he was unlikely to place, it would be good practice and a good learning experience for him.
“I wanted to win but didn’t think I had a chance,” said Carter, who turned 12 last month.
But he won his opening match 7 and 6, meaning that he was seven holes ahead with only six to play.
Next, he played the 2013 club champion.
Back and forth, they went. Carter went to the 17th tee 1-up, but he lost the lead when the defending champion eagled the par-4 hole with a 150-yard shot.
“Oh, no, the 18th is really tough,” Carter whispered to his dad.
But the club champ and Carter both parred the 18th and went into a playoff, which ended when Carter birdied the second hole.
Saturday, Carter was in the semi-finals. He won by one stroke on the 18th hole.
Sunday, he played Matt Avril, a former University of Miami golfer who, at age 51, played in the 2012 U.S. Senior Open.
“This guy is so good, and such a great sportsman and gentleman,” said Curtis Dalili.
Carter was nervous and messed up the first hole. By the eighth hole, however, he and Avril were tied.
“But we knew the eighth hole is so hard,” said the dad.
The hole requires hitting over a lake and aiming way to the right.
Avril played it smart and safe and aimed for the middle of the green. But Carter didn’t, and his ball landed within a few feet of the hole.
“He birdied it,” said his amazed father.
The well-known veteran golfer and the kid went to the ninth hole tied. But on No. 14, Carter, who was two holes up, chipped a 20-yard sand shot a few feet from the hole.
“I was deeply focused and made a good bunker shot,” said Carter.
By 4 pm on Sunday, Carter Dalili, five holes up, was the new Quail Valley Golf Club champion.
As father and son walked off the green, Curtis Dalili told his son, “I am so proud of you.”
“It felt good,” said Carter.