NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Shortly after he approached the first tee, Brennan Amirkhizi hit a shot out of bounds and was assessed a two-stroke penalty. It was not the kind of start Amirkhizi had sought.
What transpired after that was something the Glendale Community College men's golfer couldn't have fathomed, as he secured medalist honors and led the Vaqueros to the program's first first-place finish in a conference match since the program was brought back in 2008 after being eliminated in 1985 because of budget cuts.
Regrouping quickly, Amirkhizi carded a four-under-par 71 and the Vaqueros finished with a 377 on Monday afternoon in a Western State Conference match at Oakmont Country Club.
"I knew I had to come back strong and just play a safe and smart game," said Amirkhizi, a sophomore who shot five-under-par 31 on the front nine. "I had to just block that out and just go play my game.
"On the front nine, most of my [approach] shots came within five feet of the hole and I knew I would be in good shape."
Amirkhizi finished his round with eight birdies, six pars and four bogeys. The result seemed to ignite the Vaqueros, who bested traditional state powerhouse College of the Canyons by three strokes.
Glendale turned in some quality results all around on its home course, including a 75 from Chris Ramirez, a 77 from Jin Park and a 78 from Michael Timpson. It also received an 80 from Danny Fernandez.
Ventura College placed third with a 389, followed by Santa Barbara (391), Citrus (403), Bakersfield (405) and Allan Hancock (411).
For Glendale college Coach Greg Osbourne, the first-place finish he had sought finally came to fruition. It also helped move the Vaqueros closer to qualifying for the Southern California Regionals, which will be held May 9 at Bermuda Dunes Country Club in Bermuda Dunes. The Vaqueros are in second place behind Canyons entering the 36-hole conference tournament, which will be held Monday at Los Serranos Country Club in Chino Hills. The top two teams automatically qualify for the regionals, plus the team with the third lowest score will likely receive an at-large berth.
"We won on our home course," Osbourne said. "It's a win for us, the members of Oakmont Country Club and the community.
"We've been working hard and it's great to beat a great team like COC, who was undefeated the whole year. Without a doubt, it's my best moment of coaching at GCC."
Amirkhizi struggled during parts of his final nine holes. He bogeyed the 10th, 13th and 16th holes, but recovered by picking up a birdie on the 17th and 18th holes.
"I didn't blow up on the back nine," said Amirkhizi, who topped Tyler Schwanz of Canyons by five strokes. "I didn't want to get to that point.
"It's a hard course and I had to keep my shots on the fairway."
Osbourne said Amirkhizi struck with his game plan after being handed the penalty to start the day.
"He came back and never blew up," Osbourne said. "He came back and played his best round of the season and it's so deserving for him to get first because he played to his capabilities."
Ramirez, a freshman, also fared well for the Vaqueros.
Like Amirkhizi, Ramirez struggled early. He bogeyed the first hole and then settled down nicely.
"I was a bit shaky with that bogey," Ramirez said. "Then I calmed down and I started making putts and hitting the greens on my approach shots.
"I'm real happy that we were able to get first place [Monday]. I think everybody else feels the same way."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times