College Golf: Cross’ game blooms

Will Cross, a Monterey Peninsula College sophomore and former San Benito High standout, led his team to the California Community College Athletic Association State Golf Championships.

Will Cross always wanted to compete against older players form an early age, displaying a confidence and boldness belying his age.
Cross, a Monterey Peninsula College sophomore and former San Benito High standout, saw his game bloom in the recently completed 2015 season. Not only was Cross named the Coast Conference Most Valuable Player as a result of his excellent 72.6 scoring average, but he also led MPC to the California Community College Athletic Association State Championships.
“The highlight of my season was playing on a good team where everyone excelled in the matches,” Cross said. “He (MPC coach Justin Russo) is one of the best teachers around, and it was great to have a coach whose expectations were just as high as the players. It was great being on a team where the players could push each other.”
Cross, 22, said he excels at keeping the ball in the fairway off the tee, but the key to his season was making putts at key moments. Whether it was saving par or draining the tricky 8-footer, Cross putted well.
“This year my putting excelled, especially under pressure for those clutch par putts that you need to make,” Cross said.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Cross graduated from San Benito High in 2011 and took a year off before enrolling at MPC in the fall of 2012. His freshman season was in 2013—the men’s golf season is played in the spring—but he redshirted last year to take more units.
In 2015, everything came together—his game, the team, playing for a top-notch coach.
“This season I definitely feel more experienced,” he said. “My game has grown to the point where I can really be consistent, and that’s the key to golf.”
Indeed, beyond some scintillating rounds—Cross’ low round was a 3-under par 68 at Rancho Cañada in Carmel—his remarkable consistency was the most impressive aspect of his season.
Cross rarely had bad days, shooting in the 70s in approximately 90 percent of his rounds. In the State Championships at Kings River Country Club on May 11, Cross shot a solid 36-hole total of 3-over par 147 to tie for 18th place.
Cross shot 73 in the morning and 74 in the afternoon round to pace MPC, which finished seventh out of the eight-team state field. Cross said Russo and Manny Freitas, the director of golf at San Juan Oaks Golf Club, have been instrumental in his development.
“Justin is the man behind everything, just mentally and swing-wise,” Cross said. “Physically, he works wonders, and he’s one of the only coaches in the area I know who is still excelling and learning new things everyday for himself. And Manny has helped me out with everything and is such a good guy. He’s been a big part of getting me going and is definitely one of the guys I look up to.”
Cross grew up admiring his brother, Andy, who is 13 years his senior.
“Andy got me into the game, and growing up I always wanted to be like him,” Cross said. “I always saw how much fun he had playing golf and would always go out to the course with him.”
Early in his career, Cross never met a challenge he didn’t like, consistently playing with golfers who were older than him. He carries that same attitude to the course today.
“If you surround yourself with people with games far better than yours, that keeps you hungry to a point where you want to better yourself,” he said. “My ultimate goal is to make the PGA Tour. There wouldn’t be one thing that would make me more happier than waking up and playing the game of golf everyday.”

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