Saddleback College golfer Nick Prudhomme lines up his putt at Tijeras Creek Golf Course. The Gauchos have one match left until they return to Los Serranos Golf Course for the championship. (Courtesy of Saddleback Sports Information)
Saddleback College’s men’s golf team now has command over second place in the Orange Empire Conference after their match at the Victoria Golf Course on Monday, April 4.
With only two matches left in the season, each round of golf is crucial in standings for the Gauchos.
Having this be his first season coaching the Gauchos, head coach Wayne Westling sees second place foreshadowing how the team will finish their season.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve in second place this late in the season so it feels good,” Westling said. “Not as good as first place feels though.”
The team started their season with a first place on day one at the Los Serranos Golf Course in Chino Hills. Since that time, men’s golf has placed fifth twice in nine matches as well as a fourth place at the Navy Golf Course.
Saddleback College golfer Nick Prudhomme started the Gauchos up streak by scoring a 73 at the Tijeras Golf Course, his personal best of the season.
“It’s coming back, we are looking really good this year,” Prudhomme said at the start of the season.
The last time Saddleback College placed anywhere close to the top three in their division was in 2011 with Mike Rae as the head coach. That same season, men’s golf took seventh in the Southern California Regional tournament. Based on the program’s history, whenever the men’s golf team places second or higher in division, they also place in the regional and state tournament.
Top three teams in the division advance to the regional tournament making Saddleback College golfer Roberto Lievana a happy golfer.
“It feels good to get the opportunity to go to regionals,” Lievana said. “Our team has made some big improvements in how we play. We make fewer mistakes now.”
Recently, Saddleback College Jack Lutz had led the team to their second place finish at the Victoria Golf Course, shooting a 73 on the day.
“I played smarter than any other round I’ve played this year so I am happy with that,” Lutz said. “I made five birdies that day but what saved me were a few long par saves I sank.”
In order to finish well in the conference, the Gauchos must place high at the Oak Creek Golf Course and finish well at the championships, but that does not scare Lutz.
“I’ve played a tournament their before and I am playing a practice round over the weekend so I am confident going into this match,” Lutz said.
The Gauchos trail Orange Coast College by eight games with two matches left. With each match having five games within, first place is not out of the question for Coach Westling.
“With such a tough conference this year, there is only a one-point difference between second and third, third and fourth, and so on,” Westling said. “It’s tight, but regardless of the poor rounds we had early on, this is the real team.”
The OEC Championship tees off on April 25 at the Los Serranos Golf Course.