For somebody who had never participated in a collegiate match before, Richie Maloof sure fit in Monday during the first round of the Orange Empire Tee Off Tournament.
The Glendale Community College freshman and St. Francis High graduate turned in a fine effort after struggling early before regaining his composure with a solid back-nine result.
Maloof carded an even-par 72 on the North Course at Los Serranos Golf Course in Chino and helped the Vaqueros grab a three-stroke lead following the first day of the 12-team event. The tournament will conclude Wednesday.
"Going into the round, I just knew that I had to stay focused, have an open mind and be prepared," said Maloof, a reigning All-Area honoree who was four-under midway through his 18-hole round before shooting four over during his final nine holes. "On the front nine, things didn't go so well, but then I was able to light it up on the back nine.
"I felt strong and made some big shots."
Maloof parred the 12th hole before recording birdies on 13, 14 and 15.
College of the Desert recorded a 378 to garb second place, followed by Cypress (380) and Santiago Canyon (383).
"He's never played the course," said Glendale college Coach Greg Osbourne, who led the Vaqueros to an appearance in the state tournament last season for the first time in the program's history. "He goes from four under to four over just like that.
"That's incredible. He far exceeded my expectations today."
Also competing for the Vaqueros were Nick Quintanilla, Mathias Dahl, Ryan Chotivichitr, Michael Timpson and Clayon Ojeda. Quintanilla and Dahl each shot two-over–par 74s on the South Course, Chotivichitr had a 75 on the North Course, Timpson finished with an 80 on the South Course and Ojeda notched an 80 on the North Course.
"Some guys had trouble, but you've just got to live and learn," said Osbourne, who saw the Vaqueros win the event in 2010 before placing second last season."