There's no question that Ward is enjoying his best stretch and his nerves appear to have settled. It couldn't have come at a better time for Ward, who will make his first appearance at 8 a.m. today at the CIF Southern Section Boys' Golf Individual Championship at Canyon Country Club in Palm Springs.
Ward will concentrate on handling the pressure with the idea of making key shots.
"I'll try not to think about the importance [of the tournament] and concentrate as hard as I can on my shots," said the 15-year-old Ward, who helped the Falcons win their second consecutive Pacific League title this year.
"I'm just going to try to hit the ball in the middle of the fairway and put the ball in the middle of the greens. I'm very excited right now with the way I'm playing, but I don't want to get too far ahead of myself."
It's likely that Ward won't.
Ward, who missed the first month of the season because of a broken left arm, will come into today's tournament with momentum.
He carded an even-par 72 to finish in an eight-way tie for fourth place at the CIF Southern Section Northern Divisional Individual at the River Course at the Alisal in Solvang on May 15. Ward notched two birdies, 14 pars and two bogeys on the 6,830-yard course.
A similar effort today might extend his season for another week or two. The top 28 individuals will automatically qualify for the CIF/Southern Section Golf Assn. Final on June 1.
Crescenta Valley Coach John Pehar said Ward is capable of turning in another stellar effort today.
"For high school golfers in a tournament like this, there's some pretty stressful situations with a lot on the line," said Pehar, who said that Ward will join Keith Kinzel, John Denny and Damian Yi as the only Falcons to compete in the tournament in the past 20 years. "Can he take it to the next level and qualify for Murrieta? Yes, he's more than capable."
Ward came on board at the right time for Crescenta Valley, which had finished second to Arcadia in league from 1988-2004. It took hard work the past two seasons for Ward to become a staple in Crescenta Valley's six-member lineup.
"I knew I had to come in to Crescenta Valley and prove that I could do well in pressure situations," Ward said. "Every time I'm on the course, I try not to get mad. I've learned that if you have a bad hole, you just move on."
Matt Baird, who has served as Ward's private instructor for nearly two years, agreed.
"You have to work with what you have," Baird said. "You have to learn how to win by accepting your misses.
"I've been pushing him to be more strong willed because golf won't give you any favors. I'm not surprised because I see him achieving what he wants to achieve."
There's still room for Ward to improve, something he said can begin with a good performance today.
Provided he can block out those distractions, Ward will meet that challenge.