GOLF / STEVE KRESAL : Richardson Prospering in California Sun

Scott Richardson knew it got chilly in Minnesota once winter came around.

But nothing about his upbringing in Laguna Niguel prepared him for the intense cold he felt while strolling the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis campus as a freshman last fall.

Richardson, a former standout at Dana Hills High School, wasn't totally naive about living in a cold climate before he accepted the golf scholarship. But he had liked the area and the school a lot during his recruiting trip in the spring.

He understood he couldn't just toss on a jacket and play 18 holes on most November afternoons.

Plus, he had been in the snow before, albeit skiing in the local mountains.

He just never made the adjustment, though.

He packed up and came home in January after little more than a semester at Minnesota. He didn't want to return after the first semester ended in December but said his parents talked him into giving it another chance.

"I just didn't like it that much," said Richardson, 18. "You couldn't play golf, and you had to travel 40 minutes just to go hit balls. The weather was pretty severe."

After returning to the Southland, Richardson enrolled at Saddleback College and had a strong season for the Gauchos.

He was selected the Orange Empire Conference's player of the year and helped the Gauchos to their 10th conference title in 11 years.

Saddleback was second in the Southern California championships and fourth at the State tournament.

He led the team with a stroke average of 74.4 and was the medalist in 10 of 26 rounds. Richardson set a Saddleback record for a single round with a five-under 66 at Whispering Palms in Rancho Santa Fe.

"I really didn't know what to expect," Richardson said about playing at Saddleback. "It was kind of like high school. You saw a lot of the same people."

Despite all the success at Saddleback, his father, Kemp Richardson, would have liked to have seen what his son did against Division I competition.

"I wished he would have stayed," Kemp Richardson said. "It's just that you play much better competition and that's where you find out if you can really play."

Scott Richardson is spending his summer working at Golf USA, an equipment store in Laguna Niguel, and improving his swing under Lee Miller.

"I'm just trying to work on the way I hit the ball," he said. "I've been hitting it kind of screwy lately . . . I'm just trying to swing more with the left arm instead of the right."

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The Richardsons are two of 16 Orange County residents taking part in the Southern California Golf Assn. Amateur Championship, July 16-18 at Brentwood Country Club.

"It's an old tournament on a very good course," Kemp Richardson said. "I'm not just trying to beat (Scott) but everyone else. There are a lot of good golfers in the tournament."

Other locals playing are: Kevin Claborn of Brea, Mike Davis of Yorba Linda, Robert Flanagan of Stanton, Jeff Goettsche of Anaheim, Terry Heath of El Toro, Brian Herring of Santa Ana, Farrell Hinkle of Costa Mesa, Jeff Holt of Huntington Beach, Brian Leff of Brea, Mark Manion of Orange, Jason McDaniel of San Clemente, Bryan Schroeder of Irvine, Chris Tidland of Placentia and Chris Veitch of Newport Beach.

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Tidland, The Times Orange County golfer of the year in 1989 at Valencia High School, was third at the Long Beach City Championships, which ended Monday.

Michael Diette of Hawthorne won the tournament with a birdie on the third hole of a playoff to beat Jim Ream Jr. of Long Beach. Both finished at 207. Tidland, who was an All-American at Oklahoma State last spring, shot 69-68-72 for a 209.

Robert Parker (211) of Newport Beach was fifth and Davis of Yorba Linda tied for seventh at 213.

Kemp Richardson was second in the Mid-Life Division of the same tournament. He shot 73-70-69 for a three-day total of 212. He was one shot behind Ron Quick of Murietta (71-67-73).

The tournament was played at Skylinks, Recreation Park and El Dorado courses in Long Beach.

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