Ben Ramos’ route to winning the Big 8 Conference player of the year in boys golf started in Grapevine, Texas and wound through Wanda High School in Charleston, S.C.
Last year, his father accepted a job as Executive Director of Construction at UNC,so Ramos enrolled at Northwood High in Pittsboro, and the Chargers’ golf squad has spent the spring reaping the benefits.
Carding a 72, Ramos finished a stroke ahead of teammate Cooper Patterson to win the Big 8 tournament at Occoneechee Golf Course Wednesday afternoon. Northwood, under head coach Matthew Hanson, claimed its second consecutive conference championship with 326 strokes. Chapel Hill also qualified for the regionals, finishing second with 357 strokes.
Joining Ramos and Patterson in the 3A Mideast Regionals in Whispering Pines next week will be Chapel Hill’s Ryan Rosamond (who finished with a 76), Cedar Ridge’s Matthew Durham (77) and Devin Kehoe, J.F. Webb’s Noah Williams and Toby Ivey of Orange. Webb’s Lance Stallings was named Big 8 Coach of the Year.
The regular season standings and conference tournament each finished in the same order: Northwood, Chapel Hill, Cedar Ridge, J.F. Webb and Orange.
Ramos, who started hitting golf balls when he was in fourth grade, has played competitively for five years. It’s his first conference championship.
After about six inches of rain fell on Occoneechee since Monday, the five participating coaches went to bed Tuesday night unsure if the event would even happen. A tournament in neighboring Alamance County had already been canceled.
The N.C. High School Athletic Association’s deadline to have scores posted was 9 p.m. Wednesday night in order to organize the field for Sunday’s regionals. It wasn’t until Orange coach Pat Moser received confirmation from Occoneechee supervisor Scott Ray on Wednesday morning that the course was suitable for play.
Of course, the rain was still a factor.
“It was very wet,” said Ramos, standing in muddy shoes following his round. “You could get a good lie if you put it in the right place. It’s hard to place your ball in the right spot when it is wet. The greens were soft and the fairways were softer.”
Ramos and Patterson played a practice round at Occoneechee last Tuesday for preparation, but found the course a different animal on Wednesday, and not just because of the weather.
Patterson and Ramos were practically in match play for the conference title from the opening shot. Patterson, who hits a morning bucket of balls almost daily before classes, played just after Ramos.
Ramos birdied the par-5 No. 17 to go ahead by a stroke, something Hanson told Patterson just as he was about to hit his approach on the same hole.
“I was just trying to birdie that hole, and unfortunately I didn’t,” said Patterson. “Ben’s a great player and I was just happy for him.”
Rosamond, a sophomore, finished with a 76. He qualified for the regionals for the first time.
“I feel like I left some strokes out there,” said Rosamond. “I missed some putts I should have had. It feels great to go to regionals.”