By Jerry Hannula
GOLETA, Calif. - The 2018 CCCAA Men's Golf State Championship will be held on Monday (May 14) at the Sandpiper Golf Club in Goleta, providing a picturesque and challenging course to wrap up the season.
Dubbed as the "Pebble Beach of Southern California" by some, the Sandpiper course layout teeters on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean just north of Santa Barbara. It provides an ideal course on sunny days when the winds are calm. However, the 60 players invited to the one-day, 36-hole CCCAA State Championship could face difficult conditions if the ocean breezes turn into gusty winds, clear skies turn foggy, or the gravitational pull which tends to entice golf balls toward the ocean takes an upper hand.
There are 15 returners from last year's CCCAA State Championship event, including five of the top 20 finishers from a year ago. Michael Lindgren of College of the Canyons is the top returner, placing fifth overall last season to earn all-state honors. He finished 5-over-par during the 36-hole CCCAA Southern Californa Regional this past Monday at the Bakersfield Country Club course. Zack McClure of Chabot College finished 10th a year ago and finished 8-over-par at the Dragonfly Golf Club on Monday during the CCCAA Northern California Regional event in Madera.
Cypress College's Matt Rafter posted a 1-over-par 145 in this week's Southern Regional to place third in the field while Ventura College's Denis Kakimoto was 4-over at 148 and placed fifth. Riverside City College's Michael Herrera shot a 7-over 151 at the Southern Regional this week. All three return for their second shot at a state title this season after finishing 14th, 16th, and 17th, respectively, at the state championship event a year ago.
The experienced sophomores are spread out evenly throughout the field with the exception of Kakimoto's group. He will be joined on the tee by Blake Bourelle of Taft College and Kieran Blundell of Mt. San Jacinto College in the second group to tee off. Bourelle captured this week's Northern Regional title with a 4-under-par day (142) on the Dragonfly course while Blundell posted a 3-over-par 147 to finish fourth at the Southern Regional on the Bakersfield course.
The team competion appears to have defending state champion College of the Canyons as the favorite to repeat this year. The Cougars have eight state titles to their credit, including four of the past 10 state titles. Jones Comerford leads the team and was the only golfer at the Southern Regional to finish the day in the red, posting a 1-under-par total of 143. Canyons will get a good challenge again this year from Cypress College as the Chargers finished as state runners-up a year ago and finished second to Canyons at this week's Southern Regional by 11 strokes. The Chargers are one of two teams in this year's event to have never won the state title. Riverside placed fourth at last year's state championship and will have to be playing at the top of its game to challenge for this year's title. The Tigers' only state title came in 2014. Also representing the south will be Orange Coast College. The Pirates captured the Orange Empire Conference title over both Cypress and Riverside but their only state title came in 1958. Orange Coast will be looking to celebrate the 60th anniversary of that state title by challenging for this year's title.
Reedley College captured this week's Northern Regional title by two strokes over both Monterey Peninsula College and Chabot College and will be one of the teams also giving chase. The Tigers captured the 2016 state title and finished seventh at last year's state championship. Reedley's Adam Nelson was the Northern Regional runner-up this week with a 3-under-par 143. Chabot placed sixth at last year's state championship and has two state titles to its credit, the last one coming in 2011. Sophomores Jacob Malone (148) and Heetae Yang (150) led the Gladiators at the Northern Regional and get a second crack at a state championship event after finishing in the bottom 10 at last year's state championship. Monterey Peninsula has captured three state titles, the last one coming in 1987. Grayson Stapleton posted a 143 at the regional to pace Monterey. Sierra College, which won a tie-breaker with Taft College by one stroke in order to qualify for this year's state championship event, is the only other college which does not have a state men's golf title to its credit. Sam King led the Wolverines during the Northern Regional with a 3-over-par 149.
CCCAA Men's Golf Championship to be decided at beautiful Sandpiper Golf Club in Goleta
By Jerry Hannula