Saddleback Wins State Golf Championship

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Saddleback figured it could get off to an early lead in the State community college golf tournament because the Gauchos were playing at one of their home courses--Mission Viejo Country Club.

But Coach Bill Cunerty and his players said they were amazed by their 12-shot advantage (375 to 387) over second-place Monterey Peninsula after 18 holes.

From there, Saddleback went on to win the tournament with a 36-hole total of 770. Monterey (795) was second and Palomar (797) third.

It was the fourth State title for Cunerty, in his 13th season. It was also the first time in 17 years that the host team has won the tournament.

"I'm really proud of them," Cunerty said. "This is a special group. They work harder than any team I've had and that's hard to say because of some of the groups we've had."

Saddleback's Aki Amaya tied for the morning low round with a one-under 71 on the 6,814-yard course. He had two birdies in the round.

He shot 78 in the afternoon round and finished tied for first with Kelly Schlender of Ventura. Schlender also shot 71-78 and won the medalist honor on a card playoff. Schlender had also shot the low round May 2 at Santa Ana Country Club.

Amaya, from Van Nuys Birmingham High School, had never shot better than 78 at Mission Viejo.

"I was kind of surprised, but I had a lot of luck," he said of his 71. "The team title is great, that's what I was thinking about all day."

Saddleback's Justin Grandy (75-79) and Jason McDaniel (76-78) tied for fifth overall at 154.

Colin McElderry (79-79) and Jerome Valentin (75-83) shot 158 and Jason Reeder (78-81) shot 159 for Saddleback, which also won the Orange Empire Conference and Southern California tournaments on the two previous Mondays.

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