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Del Oro golfer has big goals

Senior Austin Smotherman has already proved himself against top talent
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Sports Writer
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Austin Smotherman’s frequent flyer miles are going to sit on idle for a little while. The senior Del Oro golfer has racked up the miles in between his junior and senior seasons but now he’s preparing to make his final run as an Eagle. “I want to end my senior year of Del Oro golf off right,” Smotherman said. Smotherman is looking to help lead Del Oro back to the California Interscholastic Federation Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Tournament title, which it won last year for the school’s first Masters title. He’s also looking forward to another shot at a state championship, which he finished fourth at last season. Smotherman has certainly found some worthy competition in the meantime. He tied for fifth place at the Junior Orange Bowl International in Casa Robles, Fla, which started Dec. 26, where he finished just four shots off the lead at 2-under par in the four-day tournament. He helped himself with a final round-low of 3-under 68 on the final day. Smotherman’s four-day total of 282 was also tied for the best score by an American in the field with 35 countries represented. “It’s my first really international tournament and now I know so many pro golfers from international countries that won that tournament,” Smotherman said. “I got to meet a lot of new people, hear a lot of new languages and try and learn from them.” The Junior Orange Bowl has seen some of golf’s top talents come through over its 57 years, including Tiger Woods who won the event in 1991. Earlier in December, Smotherman grabbed a win at the Sally Pini Memorial Invitational in Santa Cruz. He won the one-day tournament by two strokes with a 3-over 73. With his high school career nearly over, Smotherman has already set his eyes on Southern Methodist University. The school has recently become somewhat of a hot location for top talent. The incoming class features five of the nation’s top 75 golfers in the 2012 class including Smotherman, who is ranked 33rd according to Junior Golf Scoreboard. Smotherman said that he didn’t know much about SMU until he ran into the Mustangs’ coach, Josh Gregory, at a tournament over the summer. Gregory is in his first year at SMU after leading Augusta State to back-to-back national titles in 2010 and 2011 and was named the 2011 National Coach of the Year by the Golf Coaches Association of America. “They’ve got a lot of experience under their belts and (I) can kind of relate with them pretty well,” Smotherman said of the coaching staff. The high school season doesn’t start until Feb. 22, so in the meantime Smotherman is working on his short game at Catta Verdera Country Club in Lincoln where he works in outside services. “I’d want to be there anyway,” Smotherman said of the golf course. “I might as well as work and do it.”