The La Verne men’s golf team won the Poet Challenge by a close margin of one point under Chapman 312-313. Sophomore Pitiluk Phanomchai, who was recently nominated Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week, took first place helping to ensure the win for the Leopards after prevailing through the rain last week.
Phanomchai finished the match with an overall score of four-over 75, closely followed by Pomona-Pitzer’s Conor Rooney.
The Poet Challenge allowed for the Leopards to move into the No. 6 spot for Division III according to Golfstat and No. 11 behind Redlands, according to the Golf Coaches Association of America. La Verne is looking to overtake No. 2 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is stacking up to be the Leopards’ biggest competitor in SCIAC this season and the team is excited to compete with the defending champs.
“Definitely Claremont, [the] reigning champs, [and our] course preparation and knowing we can beat them is probably the biggest thing cause we all have the games to do that.” said senior Hisham Hussein.
Going into the match the Leopards set a theme of the day which was “New Whole” both Hussein and freshman Connor Dunlop expressed this, to ensure after finishing with one hole to forget about it and move onto the next. Dunlop finished with a score of 82 which put him at 19th out of 36.
The theme shared by head coach Eric Riehle was “New Whole” and was explained as the ability to move on from you last stroke and just think in the present.
“[The team’s saying New Whole] helps us stay in the minute on the ball and [helps] produce better golf.” said junior Charlie Green.
Other players who made a big impact for the Leopards on Friday was senior Conner Davis the returning All- American who shot a score of 78 in a four-way tie for fourth. Close behind was junior teammate Jason Brown who finished one stroke behind shooting a 79, putting him in ninth place right behind Davis.
The Leopards have not been able to practice as much as they wanted due to the rainy and stormy weather conditions. The weather not only impacts the players, but also the course they play on.
“We definitely haven’t had the most efficient practices because we have been on and off because of the rain, but I think it will make us tougher in the end,” Hussein said.
The Leopards are stacking up to be a tough competitor for the other SCIAC teams, as they finished second overall close behind Claremont. For the Leopards, reaching the next step of being first in SCIAC comes down to the little things. Green expressed how the little things effect their game and how emotions can weigh into the competition.
“Personally, in my own game I believe I can focus on controlling my internal emotions” Green said.
Both Dunlop and Hussein expressed the need to focus on their weaknesses to be able to obtain the first-place title.
Hussein stressed the importance of improving his putting game. Where on the other hand Dunlop expressed his need to work on the mental side of the game.
All these factors weigh into reaching their final goal of placing first in SCIAC and dethroning the reigning champions Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
The Leopards will return for their next match Monday at Sierra La Verne Country Club.
Rex Sample can be reached at email@example.com.