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Golf: St. Pius grad wins two tourneys in four days

St. Pius alumnus and future New Mexico State golfer Aidan Thomas won the High School National Invitational. (Courtesy of National High School Golf Association)

Aidan Thomas joked around on Tuesday afternoon at Los Altos Golf Course claiming that his bucket hat was his source of strength for his recent torrid play.

However, the recent graduate of St. Pius High is on such a hot streak it really doesn’t matter what he puts on his head.

On Tuesday, he was lifting another trophy over his head after winning the New Mexico-West Texas Boys Junior Amateur Championship. It was his second title within a span of four days.

On Friday, Thomas, an 18-year-old bound for New Mexico State, won the inaugural High School National Invitational at the Walt Disney World Golf Courses in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

“It’s just been awesome,” Thomas said. “Nothing but good stuff coming out of me right now. The only tournament I played bad in was (the USGA Boys Junior Amateur qualifier at UNM Championship Golf Club on June 25).”

Thomas, a two-time high school state champion, finished 17th with a 4-over-par 76 at the junior amateur qualifier. He won that event last year.

Even though he felt he did not play well at UNM, he entered the High School National Invitational with confidence, simply because Thomas is a headstrong, confident player.

He says he’s playing the best golf, “by far,” in New Mexico, and it’s hard to argue with that.

He backed that up during his opening round on the Palm course on June 27 when he shot 7-under 65, which included eight birdies and one bogey.

He finished up the invitational that features high school state champions from across the nation with a 2-under 70 on the Magnolia course and won with 9-under 135, a one-stroke victory.

With the win, Thomas received an exemption into the 44th Boys Junior PGA Championship July 30-Aug 2 at Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford, Conn.

“It was different because there were so many kids I had never played with,” Thomas said. “They are all good guys, really good players. I just felt comfortable because the guys I played with were all really nice. We were just talking to each other and geting to know each other.”

Thomas said he rode his momentum into the New Mexico-West Texas Junior Amateur, yet he was feeling sore on Tuesday. He worked out on Monday after shooting 1-under 70. He wasn’t looking past his second round, but he did say he wanted to be in shape and ready for his next tournament, the IMG Junior World Championships.

He had an extra stretching session before his round on Tuesday and went out and shot 3-under 68 to win the regional junior amateur by one stroke against Roman Romero, who will be a junior at Manzano. Alexander Moores, an incoming freshman at Cottonwood Classical Prep, was two strokes behind Thomas.

Thomas will not play in this weekend’s Albuquerque City Championship, as he did last year. He leaves for San Diego on Saturday to play in the junior worlds. The first of four rounds at Torrey Pines North in La Jolla begins on Tuesday.

“Hopefully (the hot streak) continues because sometimes when golfers play their best they kind of have a slump afterward,” Thomas said. “I’m going to try to keep it up.”

GIRLS: Sophia Zamarripa said she was “happy and excited” to win the New Mexico-West Texas Girls Junior Amateur Championship at Los Altos Golf Course on Tuesday. She was just as ecstatic with her final round 2-over 73, that included seven birdies.

“I’ve had a lot of birdies in a round, but not seven,” said Zamarripa, 16, who will be a junior at Sandia in the fall. “I think I had five as my max. It’s exciting. I came out here feeling a little iffy. I didn’t feel like everything was on, but I pulled through. Salvaged seven birdies. I was able to push through and win.”

She finished at 10-over 152 to win by two strokes against Carisa Padilla, who will be a senior at St. Michael’s in the fall.

Zamarripa broke through with the Class 5A state championship in May when she knocked off three-time defending state champion Jacque Galloway of Cleveland by four strokes at the Canyon Club.

Zamarripa will next play in the Girls Junior Americas Cup, a team-format tournament, July 28-Aug. 1 at Bear Creek Golf Club in Murietta, Calif.