Men’s golf takes first at Oxy Challenge

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This week has been an important and busy one for the Occidental men’s golf team, as the Tigers played four 18-hole rounds in four days against top-quality opponents.

The Tigers opened their week hosting and winning the Occidental Colllege Challenge this past Saturday at Oak Valley Golf Course, taking down Macalester College (MN) and Pomona-Pitzer with a team score of 316. Macalester and Pomona-Pitzer scored 318 and 320, respectively.

 

Cameron Connor (first-year) was Oxy’s low scorer, shooting a 4-over-par 76.

Just two days later, the Tigers teed off with a talented field of teams in the West Cup. The competition, hosted by La Verne, drew 15 western Division III teams to Morongo Gold Club in Beaumont.

“It is really the NCAA tournament preview for the west coast schools,” Coach Andrew Larkin ’12 said. “It’s a chance for all the top west coast schools to play against each other and then see who might warrant getting those NCAA bids at the end of the year.”

While the Tigers did not have to travel as far to the course as many of their opponents, they were coming off playing 18 holes Saturday to play an additional four rounds on Monday and Tuesday.

The Tiger squad is young this year, but Larkin, who is in his second season as coach, believes they have the talent to knock off some of the top programs in the country.

Larkin inherited a small program but has focused on recruiting young talent seriously over his first two years. This year, the team features four first-years, three sophomores and three juniors, led by sophomore captains Colton Bares and Andrew Wayland.

But Larkin’s plan extends beyond these two sophomore centerpieces, as his staff seeks to develop all his players into top SCIAC golfers.

This year, as part of their development, the Tigers stayed on campus over spring break to participate in a duel competition against Marywood University at Torrey Pines South, a US Open golf course.

Bares led the Tigers to victory in the March 10 duel, shooting 77 despite a thick blanket of fog that shrouded the the first six holes.

“It’s not an easy track,” Bares said of the famous San Diego course, which features challenging greens. “But I think it was a good experience for all of us to try something that tough because when we go to tournaments like the tournaments we go to, the courses won’t be nearly that hard.”

Along with recruiting and development, Larkin said that a third focus is on fundraising and alumni relations. He is overseeing the creation of an on-campus practice facility that will be located near the outdoor basketball courts.

The team plays SCIAC #2, their second official conference tournament, April 11 and 12 at Los Serranos Country Club.