Author: Anthony Ostland|Anthony Ostland
Entering the 2008 season, Occidental golf head coach Erik Johnson emphasized the importance of getting each player to shave two or three strokes off of their score and what that could mean for the team’s total success.
Fortunately for Johnson, the players were way ahead of him.
“Last year we consistently shot 20 strokes higher than the third and fourth place teams . . . This year we’ve narrowed it to around five or six shots,” Coach Johnson said.
Occidental’s golf team boasts a talented roster. Tori Leon (first-year) is a great competitor, the only Oxy woman competing in the men’s division. Keep an eye on her as she is sure to garner attention for All-American honors while at Oxy. Chris Nelson (senior) provides skillful attack and great knowledge of the game that accounts for his strong play for the Tigers.
Richard Highsmith (sophomore) has played well year-round and should contend for post season honors. Nelson had this to say of his teammate: “We can always count on Rich to post a number off the top position where we can be very competitive . . . He is a very solid and smart player.”
Although it is without question that Oxy has a very talented team and there has been much improvement from last season, the Tigers still struggle with posting consistent play. “Everyone is capable of playing very well,” Nelson said, “but for some reason, we usually fail to put it all together on a given day.”
As close as the competition has been in SCIAC, one can only imagine what it would mean for the Tigers to get in their groove. In their last tournament on April 14, the Tigers came in sixth place. However, they were only six shots behind fifth and nine shots behind fourth. For all you non-golfers, six to nine shots is not a whole lot to make up.
Looking back on the season, the Tigers have not been without their high points. On March 7, the Tigers had an impressive win over La Sierra and Chapman at the General Old Golf Course. The Tigers collectively shot a solid score of 307 and managed to win by a decent margin over their competition. Strong outings like this one remind the Tigers of what they are capable of doing. “I think we have the ability to move up a place or two if we can show just a little more consistency,” Coach Johnson said.
The Tigers’ next tournament is on April 24 at Sterling Hills. The Tigers should be very confident going into the Cal Lutheran hosted tournament because their last contest with the Kingsmen was decided only by a few strokes.
With the team starting to play better golf, look for the Tigers to close out their season strong by making a move into the top three in their conference.
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