Author: Ryan Whalen
The Occidental men’s and women’s golf teams wrapped up their fall seasons this past week, as both teams turned in impressive tournament results during the first half of their 2015–16 campaign.
Men’s golf team
The men’s team teed off on their competition in the mid-September SCIAC Match Play Invitational, claiming a 3-2 victory over conference foe Chapman University while narrowly losing 3-2 to Division II opponent CSU-Dominguez Hills. The young Tigers were led by captain Colton Bares (junior), who fired off a 1-under 71 to claim Occidental’s low round of the day.
Cam Connor (sophomore) was right behind Bares, posting a 1-over round of 73. Connor would go on to shoot a 76 in the afternoon round to post the Tigers’ best two-round score of 149. The team pointed to off-season practice as the key to starting out the season in the middle of the fairway.
“This is not a sport where you can just pick up your clubs and take a few practice swings and expect to be in mid-season form,” Bares said. “You really need to stay on top of your game and make sure you get out to the range or course every once in a while just to keep it together.”
The early work continued to payoff when the squad flew across the country to compete in the Fall Blazer Invitation at Elmcrest Country Club in Boston. During the two-day tournament, the Tigers established themselves as the top team in a field of 20 colleges. The Occidental squad was again led by Bares, as he tied for low-medalist honors with a two-round total of 146.
However, Bares was not alone at the top of the individual leader board, as Will Mansfield (first year) also claimed low-medalist honors with rounds of 74 and 72. Collectively, the Tigers’ team totals of 297 and 298 represent the lowest 36-hole score in the past the four years. Despite their victory, early season success and winning East Coast tournaments are not the overarching aspirations of the team, as they have set loftier goals for the season.
“The level of competition is so high in the SCIAC conference,” Mansfield said. “But I think we are focused on competing in every event and are playing well enough to get to the NCAAs.”
Women’s golf team
While the men’s team looked to be in mid-season form during their September tournaments, the women also proved their ability to keep up with the competition during October tournaments.
The team started off the fall season with a fourth place finish in the CMS Invitation at Upland Hills Country Club. They followed a slow first round by posting a solid second round team score of 333. Team captain and two-time First Team All-SCIAC selection Kristin Oberiano (senior) led the way for the Tigers, as she posted a two-day score of 150. In addition to being the lowest individual score for the Tigers, Oberiano’s mark was good enough for a second place overall individual finish, missing the top spot by one stroke. Occidental newcomer Samantha Rocha (first year) also made a splash for the Tigers, snagging a 17th place finish with a combined total of 172.
For their final tournament of the fall season, the Tigers traveled west to play in the Dennis Rose Intercollegiate Invitational at Waikoloa Beach Golf Course on Hawaii’s Big Island. However, the Tigers face stiff competition, as all the other schools in the six-team field are Division II schools.
Occidental started out the Hawaii tournament in record-setting fashion, posting a low 18-hole team record of 45-over (325) in the first of two rounds this past Monday. Oberiano again set the pace for the Tigers, turning in rounds of 77 and 75, putting herself in third place and only four shots back of the leader. Rocha (first-year) and Katy Uchiyama (first-year) also provided strong performances, shooting two-round scores of 163 and 169 respectively.
Aside from a record setting performance, the tournament provides another opportunity for the younger players to experience collegiate level competition.
“The first years played their first two collegiate tournaments, and hopefully they see how they could be competitive in this new field of players,” Oberiano said. “For the seniors, we were able to find where we left off and what we can improve on for the spring season.”
Overall, both teams have appeared to be in mid-season form and will look to carry over their early success into next semester’s lineup of tournaments, according to new head coach Will Morris.
“I am excited to watch these groups develop and very much looking forward to the spring season,” Morris said.
With the conclusion of the fall season, the next time the Occidental men’s and women’s golf teams will return to action will be in February, with the men teeing off at SCIAC No. 1 Feb. 6 and the women hitting the fairways two weeks later.
*The women’s tournament was still in progress at press time. For up-to-date results, see oxyathletics.com.
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