By KEVIN SAULS
Andrew Silva is off to a strong start as the No. 1 player on the Sonora High School boys' golf team.
Silva, a senior, shot a one-over-par round of 37 in a 207-230 victory over Golden Valley of Merced at Mountain Springs, then came back two days later with an even-par 35 to help the unbeaten Wildcats break 200 in a 199-239 victory over Argonaut at Castle Oaks in Ione.
The Union Democrat's Athlete of the Week is averaging 37.3 strokes per nine-hole round for Sonora (3-0), just as a No. 1 player should.
"I feel like I should carry the team and shoot good scores," Silva said. "I feel that pressure."
"I think he's handling it great," Sonora coach Steve Lee said. "Not only does he have a lot of pressure to shoot good scores, but as the No.1 player he has to lead by example."
Silva is excelling in that department, too.
"We have three freshmen on the team, and they all enjoy playing with him," Lee said. "He doesn't intimidate them, and he always helps them."
In his round of 37 at Mountain Springs (Sonora's home course), Silva got off to a shaky start and was four-over-par through four holes. He caught fire after that and birdied three of the last five No. 5, 7 and 8. At Castle Oaks, he offset two bogeys with a pair of birdies.
But final scores aren't what he's all about on the course.
"I just try to play it by every shot," Silva said. "If I think about scores, I won't play too good. I won't concentrate on the right things."
Silva took up golf in sixth grade at the behest of friend and former Sonora golfer Sean Lindsey. He got serious about it the year before coming to Sonora.
"I really started practicing to make the team," Silva said.
He made it, and has been on the varsity all four years. This is his first year as No. 1, and so far he's making the most of it.
"He's playing pretty close to a two-handicap, which is pretty darn good," Lee said. "He does a good job of hitting the greens and setting himself up for birdies."