By Richard Smith
West Valley Preps
In this case, the child did lead them.
The Lorenz family had little to do with golf until one of its youngest members showed signs of being a child prodigy. Ben Lorenz started playing when he was almost 5 and within a year or two, he displayed the game of a much older boy.
“Honestly, there wasn’t any history. I just liked it when I was younger and my dad supported me with it. My parents didn’t play golf,” Ben Lorenz said.
His oldest brother, Brady, played football at Northwest Christian.
But another older brother, Blake, was among those impressed and he picked up the clubs in seventh grade.
“I played three other sports before starting golf. Ben played when he was really young. I kind of followed into the golf tournaments from seventh grade until the present,” Blake Lorenz said. “Junior year was the first time I focused solely on golf. He basically got me into it.”
Blake proved a quick study and Ben’s physical abilities are catching up with his advanced golf skills.
Now, with Blake a senior at Sunrise Mountain and Ben a sophomore, the Division II leader board during the finals Oct. 23-24 n Tucson should have B.
Lorenz at or near the top. Maybe even the top two slots.
‘I’ve kind of always dreamed about that. It’s happened a few times, including pretty recently. I’d love to see that happen — two Lorenz boys at the top of the leader board,” Blake Lorenz said.
It nearly happened a year ago. Ben Lorenz shot a 144 over two rounds, in afive-way tie for second two strokes behind champion Gavin Cohen of Tucson Catalina Foothills. Blake was one stroke back of Ben, in a twoway tie for second.
Cohen graduated and now plays for Arizona. Others returning from that top 8 are:
Tucson Canyon del Oro senior Jonathan Walters, junior Chaz Aurilia from Phoenix Arcadia and Chandler Seton Catholic junior Alejandro De Zavala.
Several other talented returnees are also in the mix, Mustangs coach Nick Rizer said. But this year, the Sunrise Mountain coach has seen both improve their weaknesses — to the point that their games are almost identical.
“Last year, there was a distinct difference between short games. Ben was just better. Blake had the longer game with ball striking off the tee,” Rizer said. “This year, it’s almost like they’re identical. Ben has made Blake work harder at his short game. But Blake has showed Ben that you can hit the ball a long ways but you still have to hit it here. Ben was so good inside 100 yards. Now that he’s starting to gain that distance, it’s scary how good he could be.”
Rizer said Blake Lorenz brought intensity and emotion from his past in team sports. As a sophomore, he needed to learn a lot about course management and mental approach. The coachsaid he is impressed at how Blake matured on and off the course and how much better he handles ups and downs.
“I was always pretty good at striking the ball. I’ve always kind of struggled with the short game. Putting has been my nemesis. So I’ve definitely given it the most attention and it has improved a lot and led me to my recent success,” Blake Lorenz said.
Ben Lorenz won three Junior Golf Association of Arizona events again older kids in 2016 before starting high school. He also placed in the top 5 at an American Junior Golf Association national tournament.
Yet, he did not enter state expecting to win as a freshman.
“I was honestly surprised because I was so young and I was a lot smaller. But I played really well at state and it gave me a lot of confi dence,” Ben Lorenz said.
Having lifted each other, the Lorenz boys are raising the level of everyone on the team. Sunrise Mountain usually finishes in the 7 to 10 range at state.
They will face off with Phoenix Thunderbird for the section title. But now the results are trickling down to younger players. No. 3 player Caleb Thomason, a junior, recently shot a 77.
“They just live down the street, so they’re up here practicing every single day. I call the golf course in the summer and they say, ‘Oh yeah, your boys are here,’” Rizer said. “For me if something comes up and I say we have to take a practice off, I know they’re here. They’ll be the No. 3 and No. 4 with them, and the younger kids are starting to emulate them.”
After the season, Ben will focus on getting a top 5 finish or a win on the AJGA circuit.
Blake will not play as much, though he will play in the junior amateur tournament and hopes to qualify for the junior worlds in Torrey Pines Golf Course near San Diego.
Blake said he wants to choose a college some time this month. Gonzaga, Oklahoma and Washington State are his top three universities.
“They all have really good business degrees. That’s probably what I’m looking to major in, business, finance, accounting or economics,” Blake Lorenz said. “They all have really good facilities for golf and to improve your game. All the campuses are really nice. They have a ton of great resources for student athletes.”