Golfer Roberto Lievana golfing prior to his injury in the afternoon round during the Orange Empire Conference Championships. (Photo courtesy of Saddleback athletics)
The Saddleback College 2016 men’s golf season came to an end Monday after experiencing a close loss during the Orange Empire Conference championship rounds.
Riverside and Cypress proved to be tough competitors, in a neck-to-neck battle for third place, a standing needed to move on into the Southern California Regional Championships. A standing the Gauchos barely missed by finishing fourth.
The tournament took place at the Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills under unfavorable conditions.
Along with windy weather, Saddleback was set at a disadvantage from the start. Golfer Jack Lutz called in sick for the morning round, leaving the Gauchos with only five players, ultimately losing the advantage of the throw-out score.
With that disadvantage, Saddleback ended up with placing fifth in the morning round with a score of 412. Cypress would follow that with a score of 405 in fourth and Riverside with a score of 398 in third.
Despite having placed fifth in the morning round, both Nick Prudhomme and Alex Diaz shot respectable shots, breaking 80 in the early round. By the afternoon round, a sick Jack Lutz would arrive to card the team’s second best score at 81.
With Lutz back in the round, the Gauchos had the throw-out score back in their favor, until player Roberto Lievana suffered an injury, causing him to pull out of the afternoon round. This was an injury, Lievana said was directly tied to the wind.
“Oh man…. The match was way too windy!! It was sad that I had to withdraw in the middle of mi second match but my shoulder really felt injured and weak,” Lievana said. “With the amount of wind that was blowing I was forcing myself to much so I decided to stop playing in order to avoid future injury.”
With Lievana’s leave, the Gauchos were once again left with only five players with no throw-out score.
However, the Gauchos did go on to improve in the afternoon round by scoring 415, placing them in fourth. This broke the tie with Riverside, but was not enough to beat Cypress, who placed second, earning enough points to continue in the conference.
With a tournament this close, it is not surprising that the team was disappointed. Especially since for some players, this would be there last.
“It was sad we were not able to close the season as we would have wanted. No matter what I had a great time with my team mates,” Lievana said. “As golf for me, it is over. It was my second year playing for saddleback so my eligibility is done.”
While some players are continuing their future without Saddleback, others are continuing to look forward to make future improvements with the team. Alex Diaz who will be continuing with the team next year, has high hopes for next season.
“We didn’t have the season we were looking for but a great team and hopefully next year is the year for us,” Diaz said. “The only way is up from here.”
This season may have not been what the team had been looking for, but there is no denying that the team has been improving over the years.
Coach Wayne Westling recognizes that the team has been placing above fifth and sixth the last few years, noting their improvements. Ultimately, he find that this season exceeded expectations, just6 barely missing the mark.
“It was better than I expected, but we were disappointed that we didn’t qualify for the Southern California championships. We had to finish in the top 3 and we finished one game out of third,” Westling said. “So that was disappointing. We were very close. It was the difference between second place and fourth place was very slim this year.”
Saddleback will continue next season without Nick Prudhomme and Roberto Lievana, leaving the Gauchos with the same starters and a fresh crop freshman, adding to next years’ team.