Golfers tee off in SCIAC competition

Charles Green
Staff Writer

The men’s golf team started its conference season off last weekend with a middle of the pack finish at the first two rounds of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament at Tukwet Canyon Champions Course in Beaumont.

The six-man team battled in high winds and torrential rain to shoot a two-round total score of 619 (27 over par), that placed them fourth behind Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, Redlands and Cal Lutheran.

Despite the challenging conditions, junior Jake Littlejohn said that the tough conditions were no excuse for the team’s poor play.

“We have a very talented team, but at the moment we are too negative and worried about screwing up,” Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn posted scores of 76 and 80 and believes their lack of focus is where he and his teammates faulted.

Like it has been for many recent seasons, maintaining a positive mentality during matches has been an overall team focus.

Sophomore Nathan Stepanski, who was the Leopards’ best-placed individual with rounds of 75 and 77 to finish tied for ninth, speculated that the team suffered from mental blocks this weekend over certain shots.

“You are standing over a shot that may look intimidating and you feel like you don’t have the self-confidence to pull that shot off, when you really should be going in there with confidence and giving yourself the opportunity to do that,” Stepanski said.

The Leopards are the reigning SCIAC champions, though at this early stage are a significant 35 shots behind conference leaders and main rivals Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.

“Claremont is obvious favorites right now and rightly so, but if they slip up, we will be right on their tail,” sophomore Connor Dunlop said.

Dunlop, who shot scores of 75 and 80, tied for 13th individually and finished as La Verne’s second-best performer.

Dunlop said at this point, the team knows they are no longer the favorites, but are now the underdogs trying to regain their title.

Even though the Leopards have not started off to the ideally in defending their conference title, head coach Eric Riehle says it’s normal for the golf program to start off slowly and improve as the season goes on.

Riehle believes the team needs to improve some technical parts of their game, especially in the short game department but refers to what he calls the “Leo Way” as being the best way to get his team back on track.

“The Leo Way is grinding, it’s toughness, it’s better internally than externally, and it’s team over individual,” Riehle said.

Junior Pitiluk Phanomchai by his own standards had a very disappointing tournament with scores of 78 and 79, landing him a 21st place finish.

Matching those scores was last week’s SCIAC Athlete of the Week, freshman Zane Mularski.

Freshman Aaron Yoo rounded up La Verne’s total with scores of 81 and 83.

The men’s golf team is back in action at the OC Tri-Match at Tustin Ranch Golf Club on March 13.

Charles Green can be reached at charles.green@laverne.edu.

Charles Green

Latest Stories

Related articles

Ordona’s record breaking performance leads golfers at SCIAC championships

Senior Michael Ordona led the way for men and women’s golf teams at the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship tournament Sunday through Tuesday, hosted by Cal Lutheran at Mountain Meadows Golf Course in Pomona.

Sunday comeback helps golfers at Mountain Meadows

The La Verne men’s and women’s golf teams placed fourth at the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference No. 2 tournament at Mountain Meadows Golf Club on Saturday and Sunday.

Golf coach reflects on his La Verne career

Eric Riehle, head men’s and women’s golf coach, talked about the lessons he has learned as a coach Tuesday during his lecture titled “My Last Dialogue,” via Zoom before a virtual audience of about 20.

A century of La Verne sports

With over 400 athletes across 18 teams, it is easy to take La Verne’s athletic programs for granted. But as with many great things, our sports came from very humble beginnings.