West Valley Preps
It was only a matter of when.
Ben Lorenz arrived at Sunrise Mountain with a nearly complete golf game, placing second in Division II as a freshman. As a sophomore he finished tied for third, watching his older brother, Blake, seal the Division II title.
By a quirk in the placement formula, the Mustangs boys golf team moved up to Division I alongside larger East Valley schools. But golfers from traditional powerhouse schools like Phoenix Brophy Prep, Chandler Hamilton and Scottsdale Chaparral could not hold off a more focused Lorenz this time around.
The junior finished with a 136 over two days, Oct. 29-30 at Tucson National Golf Course, a stroke ahead of Zack Missigman of Brophy for the Division I state title.
“There’s a lot of kids out there that have the golf game. But he has the mental advantage over those kids because he knows how to compete in those tournaments. On day two, he made a bogey and it doesn’t fluster him like it probably does to some of the other kids,” Sunrise Mountain boys golf coach Nick Rizer said.
Lorenz sharpened his mental approach during the summer, often placing in and sometimes winning local Junior Golf Association of Arizona. The highlight was a spot in the Junior Americas Cup.He said the summer bolstered his confidence, particularly against his new large-school rivals.
“It was fun. I know a lot of players from the big schools since I played with them in the summer. It’s definitely fun to play good competition, kind of helping me play better knowing that there’s more at stake,” Lorenz said.
Winning an in-season tournament at Flagstaff confirmed Lorenz’s readiness to play with anyone in Arizona, given that Brophy and Hamilton were both there.
That preparation made state feel similar to the regular tournaments he competes in.
“If Ben plays like he can, it doesn’t matter what division he’s in. Division I probably brings more high caliber players in, but Division II has some great kids,” Rizer said.
Last year’s experience with both courses at Tucson National helped Lorenz, as did a dry run a couple weeks before state.
Rizer said the Sonoran Course features some tight approaches where Lorenz now knows to avoid his driver. Second year of state on that course helps.
“I played it about two weeks before the first day and that was good to go over where I needed to hit it on a couple holes. It definitely helped because there’s a few weird tee shots out there,” Lorenz said.
His comfort level showed on the first day at the Sonoran Course, shooting a 66 which tied Lorenz for first with Chaparral’s Preston Summerhays.
Summerhays dropped off early Oct. 30 on the Catalina Course. Lorenz was not as torrid on the second day, but he played steady and did not get too conservative.
“For him day one was super smooth. It had zero stress. He lipped a few putts but he shot four under. Day two was a little bit different. He wasn’t missing a lot, but he was just missing the green. He made one bogey but came back and birdied the next two holes. He bogeyed the last hole, and hit a tee shot not where he wanted to. It just clipped the top of the tree. But what I liked, he was trying to be aggressive and not playing it safe,” Rizer said.
Lorenz knew he had a two-stroke lead with his rivals still three or four holes away from the finish entering that final hole. After his bogey, he was in an unusual position for a leader in the final round, waiting for several holes in the clubhouse.
Sunrise Mountain did not qualify for the team tournament, so Lorenz finished earlier than any of the team members also gunning for that title — including most of his rivals.
“The waiting was a little weird but I felt pretty good about it because they last couple holes were a tough stretch and they were a couple shots back. They would have to do something special to tie,” Lorenz said. “It felt good to achieve a goal I had wanted for a few years.”
Rizer said the win was a little anticlimactic. But he also said the victory means more to Lorenz than he is letting on.
“He downplays it because he and his brother get along really well, but they compete really well too. Even last year he would have soon won the state championship,” Rizer said. “This year I think it’s really nice. We kept joking about if we were going to have back-to-back Lorenz brother championships and now we do. I think his brother was a motivating factor, because of how close they are.”
Lorenz will follow Blake to the University Oklahoma in 2020.
Before then, his final 18 months of high school and youth golf will be a matter of fine tuning — and qualifying for national tournaments whenever possible.
Late January and early February things ramp up again for him.
“There’s a few I want to qualify for that are pretty large, with a ton of people from different places playing in it,” Lorenz said.
Rizer said his goal is to help Ben and all the kids on the team become better young men. He said’ one of Lorenz’s biggest differences this year is his mental game.
This year Rizer said Lorenz is much more consistent mentally. He doesn’t have the, ‘I can’t believe that didn’t go in,’ moments. Now he is more likely to laugh it off.
The coach told Lorenz’s father his favorite thing about Ben was how much he’s matured since his freshman year.
“His golf game is his golf game. And no disrespect to his brother but it’s the best we’ve seen at Sunrise Mountain High School. But his maturity is the thing that puts him above most of the other kids that were competing with him. He’s just so even keeled now. The young man he’s turned into is — for me — the win,” Rizer said.