MHS golfer wins league title

Malibu High senior Ryan Sarmiento clinched the first golf league title in school history. Photo by Sam Rubinroit

Malibu High School senior Ryan Sarmiento clinched a league title in golf, the first in school history.

Sarmiento finished with the lowest combined score of any player in the six league matches, besting the second place finisher by 11 strokes.

“It feels really good that after four years of high school golf, I was finally able to reach my goal of winning league and move on to individuals,” Sarmiento said.

In the six matches, he finished with scores of 78, 79, 71, 73, 72 and 74. The 71 marked the first time in his high school career that he finished 18 holes under par.

“I’ve just practiced pretty hard this year, a lot harder than in previous years,” he said. “I realized it’s my senior year, my last year, and I really wanted to work hard at it and have a good result.”

The Malibu High team, coached by Rich Lawson and Sean Ryan, earned a spot in the CIF playoffs, but exited in the first round after a disappointing performance.

“The team has been a great experience,” Sarmiento said. “We spent two hours minimum on the bus together to and from matches, so I’ve become close to them and they are all good guys.”

After winning the league title, Sarmiento advanced to CIF individual playoffs, where he competed on Monday at River Ridge Golf Club. Despite shooting an impressive 3-over score of 75, he missed the final cut to move on to the next round by one stroke.

“It was really challenging. It was the best kids from schools around here and there were a few scores in the 60s, so I really had to play well. I played pretty well, but not well enough.”

In the past three years, a score of 3-over has been good enough to advance, but this year the top 30 players out of a field of 109 shot under 74.

“It was shaky,” Sarmiento said of his performance. “I was grinding all day, and the number I was shooting for was 3-over. I was 4-over going into [the 16th hole], so I birdied 16, which got me back to 3-over. Then, I made some good putts on 17 and 18 and thought I was actually in, but I found out it was 74 and below so that was a bummer.”

After playing golf every year of high school, Sarmiento was sentimental about playing the final round of his Malibu High career. Next year, he plans to attend Loyola Marymount University, where he will attempt to walk-on to the golf team.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said of his golf career at Malibu. “It’s the only sport I’ve played all four years, so it’ll be missed.”

Though only 17 years old, Sarmiento seems to have unlocked the secret to conquering the challenges of golf.

“Practice, practice, practice. That’s the only way to get better.”