SCIAC-Hopeful P-P Golf Teams Battling Through Adversity

Despite adversity this season, the Pomona-Pitzer golf teams have persevered. The women’s team is eyeing an NCAA qualification, and the men’s team is aiming for a top-three finish in the SCIAC. (Photo courtesy of P-P Athletics)

The Pomona-Pitzer women’s and men’s golf teams have faced some troubles this season.

This includes the recent firing of head coach Bernard Walker with interim head coach Javier Bazurto. The men's team is young and relatively inexperienced at the college level, and has failed to score consistently, while the women have been plagued with injuries.

Even so, the teams have persevered to record some notable finishes so far this year.

The Sagehen women beat their Claremont-Mudd-Scripps rivals at the Maurice Walker Championships in early February for the first time since the Walker Cup started in 2016, and finished second at the first SCIAC tournament Feb. 24 and 25. Since the beginning of the spring season, the women have finished in the top three at all but one of their tournaments.

Though they finished second to CMS at the SCIAC tournament by a difference of 18 shots, the P-P women bounced back with low scores in the second round after struggling in the first day of the tournament. Gabrielle Herzig PO ’21 took fifth overall with a score of 158, while Andi Chaloult PO ’20 and Priscilla Ki PO ’21 tied for eighth overall with scores of 159.

Sophia Hui PO’19 was especially proud of the team narrowing the gap with CMS during the second round.

At the George Fox/Westbrook Invitational in Peoria, Arizona, two weeks ago, the women posted their lowest scores yet and finished second to George Fox University — the top-ranked team in the West region as of last fall — by 21 shots. Hui, who finished in fifth overall at the tournament, scored 148, her personal best in a two-day tournament. Herzig and Ki tied for 10th with scores of 154, while Catherine Lott tied for 13th with a score of 155.

Traveling to two tournaments over spring break helped raise the P-P women’s national ranking, yet the team has recently been struggling with injuries and sickness. “We have to prioritize our health so that we can continue competing and not have to withdraw from any tournaments,” Chaloult said.

Earlier this week, the women finished fourth at the Bulldog Classic, with 21 more shots than CMS. After the tournament, the women have moved up to be ranked thirteenth nationally. Ki took fifth with a score of 152.

The women’s team’s strong finishes have given them confidence for the remainder of their season.

“Beating CMS was the best way to start our season, and finishing second in Arizona proved to us once again that we definitely have what it takes to win SCIAC and make it to nationals. Our team has depth and heart, which will hopefully take us far,” Hui said.

Though many golf teams struggle with consistency across their lineups, Chaloult believes that the Sagehen women are solid.

“Our individual scores are always within a few strokes of each other which is unlike other teams in our league, and it's a huge advantage being able to depend on my teammates,” she said.

Still, Ki thinks the team can score its “best possible lows” more frequently.

“We have so much potential to do well every round and a way to reach this is to get out in the course and focus on course management,” she said.

Hui is proud of the way her team has handled the loss of its coach.

“This year's team is probably the most dedicated, committed, and focused team Pomona-Pitzer golf has ever seen,” she said. “We all have stepped up and worked together as [a] team to make sure that we stay focused and finish strong the rest of season.”

The women are just 19 strokes behind their CMS rivals and aims to win the SCIAC Championships.  “Winning league is definitely within our reach, and if we do, then we will go to nationals for the first time as a team.” Hui said.

Meanwhile, after finishing between fourth and sixth place in prior meets, the Sagehen men concluded the West Cup Mar. 26-27 with eight more shots than CMS.

Conor Rooney PO ’19 won the Whittier Invitational in early February with a score of 70, while Owen Rosebeck PO ’20 placed in ninth with a score of 77.

But first round of the first SCIAC tournament Feb.17 and 18 didn’t go as well as the P-P men had hoped; Sam Sawyers PO ‘20 was the only one to finish in the top ten with a total score of 146.

After a rough first round, the men redeemed themselves with the lowest scores of the day, including a score of 71 from Sawyers and Rosebeck, 72 from Jack Carrigan PZ ’20, and 73 from Rooney.  

Rosebeck said “shooting the low round of the day” was one of the highlights of the season. “We came in at one under par as a team,” he added.

The Sagehen men enjoyed playing in one of the strongest fields at the Desert Classic in Las Vegas and managed to beat several Division II teams, including Southern Indiana University and Hawaii Pacific University

Rooney finished fifth at the three-day Masters Invitational with a score of 216, just seven shots behind the winner from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Though the team’s overall results have not been as strong, Rosebeck hopes the team can play with better consistency and place in the top three in SCIAC by the end of the season.

“We are a young team that, despite showing signs of brilliance, has struggled with consistency,” Rosebeck said. “The team has persevered through adversity and [is] in good form going into the last half of our season.”