Tag Archives: golf

Rick’s Sports Corner: Maddie Riggs, UC Irvine’s Rising Golf Star

By Rick Assad

Every day offers an opportunity to make choices. Most of the time they are fairly mundane like what to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner or what to wear that day.

Sometimes they are more complicated and demand deeper thought because they are more important.

In the case of Maddie Riggs, she had to choose whether to play a sport she loved or switch to another upon entering college.

This was a real dilemma because Riggs was a gifted soccer player for four seasons at Burroughs High, leading the Indians in scoring and assists during her junior and senior years and was voted All-Area first-team both seasons.

“Maddie was tenacious as a soccer player,” said her father, Brady Riggs, who is the Burroughs girls’ soccer coach. “She was the consummate leader, always training at full speed, playing through injuries and demanding that level of commitment from her teammates.”

But Riggs also excelled on the Indians’ golf team across four seasons, earning All-Area first-team as a senior. For good measure, Riggs was a member of the softball squad as a freshman.

Maddie Riggs is entering her third season on the UC Irvine women’s golf team. (Photo courtesy Maddie Riggs)

So when Riggs, the Mike Torres Award winner which is given to the most outstanding two-sport female athlete at Burroughs, stepped foot onto the campus of the University of California Irvine, she had a weighty choice to make.

Riggs, who redshirted her freshman year, 2017-2018, opted to play golf and has flourished.

“In high school, soccer was my passion,” she said. “I had played soccer at a high level since I was eight years old and dedicated my entire life to the game.”

Riggs went on: “After I got a severe concussion my sophomore year I realized my soccer career would have to end eventually,” she said. “That was when I shifted my focus to college golf. I still love the beautiful game, but my future and my passion now is in golf.”

With the world on pause because of COVID-19, Riggs has been impacted.

“The safety of my family and I has been the priority so my time spent at golf has decreased dramatically,” she noted. “I have been putting on a mat in my room, hitting into a net in my backyard and working out consistently. Once courses opened a few weeks ago, I have practiced at the range, but haven’t played much golf. I’m trying to be as prepared as possible for the Western Amateur in Illinois at the end of July, which I will play in if it is safe to travel.”

Riggs, who tries to emulate the competitive attitude of Danielle Kang, a three-time winner on the LPGA tour including the Women’s PGA Championship in 2017, is entering her third season on the Anteaters’ team.

“I love golf because all the responsibility is on me. What attracts me most is I do not have to rely on teammates for success,” said Riggs, a Public Health Policy major who shot a career-best, 1-under par 71 at the Rebel Beach Tournament and finished a career-best, in which she tied for 10th place in the Gold Rush tourney hosted by Cal State Long Beach. “My success is determined by how much effort I put in, not how hard the rest of my team is working.”

Coincidentally, Maddie’s father, a PGA Top 100 Teacher, has also had a hand in her success at UCI.

A standout on the Burroughs High girls’ soccer team, Maddie Riggs is shown in a match versus Burbank. (Photo courtesy Maddie Riggs)

“My role is twofold,” he said. “First as her golf instructor teaching her all the technical aspects of the game and making adjustments to her mechanics as necessary.”

Riggs added: “That has now evolved into becoming her golf coach, supervising her practice sessions, helping her with strategy and learning the subtle nuances of playing on the highest level,” he said.

Riggs, a National Golf Coaches Association All-American Scholar, said her father’s experience and guidance has been a blessing.

“Having my dad as a coach is special to me. We have always had a great father-daughter relationship in sports and to have a coach who knows my golf game and me as a person better than anyone is a huge advantage,” she said.

Golf is demanding and exacting, but Riggs has been able to come out ahead. “Golf is a tough sport to master because it is challenging both technically and mentally,” she said. “You can have great technique, but you have to learn how to score which takes experience during competitive rounds.”

Maddie Riggs talking with her father, Brady, the Burroughs’ soccer coach and a Top 100 PGA Teacher. (Photo courtesy Maddie Riggs)

How does Riggs, who took golf seriously at age 16, attack a hole?

“I am a conservative player and I base my decisions on percentages,” she said. “For example, each club has a specific dispersion, so I aim based on how wide my miss is instead of going directly at the flags.”

What’s the one thing that Riggs can lean on at the course?

“The best part of my game is my ability to trust my shot shape and commit to intelligent targets,” she said. “I play a fade, so the ball curves left to right and it is consistent with all my clubs.”

Riggs has been able to play well because she isn’t concerned with the other players.

“Chasing the leader adds pressure, but you cannot control how they are going to play so you have to focus on what you can control which is the next shot,” she said.

Riggs hasn’t played in front too often, but thinks that there’s pressure.

“I haven’t been in the lead very often, but I think it would be easier,” she explained. “As the leader, the tournament is yours to lose or win instead of coming from behind which requires other players to not play as well.”

Golf is a game of patience, which Riggs has. “One trait that makes me excel at golf is the mantra my dad has told me since I was little: “the only thing you can control is your effort and your attitude.” I apply this to all aspects of my life, but it is especially valuable in golf.”

Riggs continued: “I put all my effort into every round of golf regardless of if I am having a good day,” she said. “And it is even more important to have a good attitude on the course when you’re struggling. I never give up on a round and I think that mentality of grinding gives me a competitive edge in golf. I have to give soccer some credit because regardless of the score during a game, you never give up and that’s what I do in golf.”

Though lofty, Riggs in time would like to join the LPGA tour. “I believe that I can play on tour. I have only been playing highly competitive golf for a short amount of time and feel I have not reached my full potential yet,” she said. “I know that I have the work ethic and technical ability to play on tour. I just need more experience in competition.”

Burroughs Boys Golf Finishes Second and Burbank Gets Third At DeBell

By Rick Assad

 

While the Masters conducted its first day in Augusta, Georgia, the fifth Pacific League boys’ golf match took place at the DeBell Golf Club on Thursday afternoon and for Burroughs High’s Kodiak Hernandez and Arcadia’s Josh Kwon, each had an impressive outing, as both shot a 4-under-par 67.

Hernandez fired a 3-under-par 33 on the front nine where he eagled the par-5 No. 1 and the par-5 No. 8 and then shot a 1-under-par 34 on the back nine.

“I tried to hit the ball straight and just play the best I can. DeBell’s a tough course if you don’t hit it straight,” Hernandez said of the course’s challenges.

Kodiak Hernandez shot a 4-under-par 67 and was tied for first place in a Pacific League match at DeBell Golf Club. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

What makes DeBell so difficult? “How short and narrow it is,” he said. “You just have to know where to position the ball to play well.”

How was Hernandez able to overcome the obstacles?

“My wedge shots and I was putting really well on the greens even though my tee shots weren’t on point,” he noted. “I felt pretty confident especially coming around the turn. I play DeBell very often and it helps a lot because you learn where to put the ball, the distances and the greens.”

The Apaches, who are the defending league champions, are in first place this season and were the overall team winner after shooting 367.

The Indians took second place at 388 and are in second with two matches remaining on the regular schedule.

Burbank came in third place at 402 as J.J. Nakao fired an even-par 71 that included a 1-under-par 35 on the front nine.

Burbank was third in the Pacific League match at DeBell on Thursday. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Overall I’m happy with my day, but I could have done a lot better,” Nakao said of his outing. “Midway through the round I could have focused a little more. Went shot-by-shot instead of thinking of the overall score.”

Does he also find DeBell especially tough? “It’s a pretty interesting course,” he said. “You’ve got to hit it straight every single shot. A couple of shots I hit left to right. You just have to take it stroke-by-stroke. I would say my long game saved me today. My putting was an issue.”

Ryan McGowan came into the clubhouse with a 5-over-par 76 for the Indians.

Lincoln Melcher finished with a 77 and Daniel Gonzalez capped his day with an 82 for Burroughs.

Trey Sanchez was next for Burroughs after shooting an 86, while Niko Coccio carded a 94.

Kevin Kienlen posted a 77 for the Bulldogs, and Ari Ahmed ended his 18 holes with an 82.

Burbank’s Frank Masyk closed out his day with an 83, Devin Blazon came into the clubhouse with a 89 and Hayden Chase shot a 102.

Crescenta Valley garnered fourth place with a 424 and was led by Hank Norman’s 76. Placing fifth was Pasadena with 477 as Jerome Dimalaluan paced the Bulldogs after shooting an 84.

Burroughs Places 3rd In Girls’ Golf Match

By Rick Assad
Sports Editor

 

At this point, it is almost expected that the San Marino High girls’ golf team will win, which it did on Tuesday in a Pacific League match at Santa Anita.

The defending league champion Titans (25-0) finished with a 189, followed by Arcadia (19-6), which shot a 199, and Burroughs (19-6), which came in at 216.

The rest of the field included La Canada (6-19), which shot a 218, Crescenta Valley (9-16), which carded a 222 and Burbank’s 291.

The lowest score was turned in by the Spartans’ Rachel Oh, who shot a three-under-par 34, while the Titans’ Bella Setio and Arcadia’s Annie Kong each finished with a 36. San Marino’s Ada Wong ended her day with a 37.

The Indians’ lowest tally was carded by Ashley Phelps at 41, Annie Adachi clubbed a 42, and Bella Nava was next with a 43.

Maddie Riggs capped her afternoon with a 44, Katy Kuoppala followed with a 46, and Raelinn Arnold’s 48 was tossed out.

Pacing the Bulldogs (0-25) was Amy Tran’s 41, while Alexis Poche carded a 46. Olga-Marie Davis shot a 54 and Erin Tanner went to the clubhouse with a 67.

Boys & Girls Club of Burbank Tees it High and Lets it Fly

The PGA of America and USGA have welcomed Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) as their Official Youth Development Partner in a new five-year mission that will introduce youth nationwide to the game of golf. Through this partnership, PGA Professionals are teaching golf to kids starting at 50 Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide, including Boys & Girls Club of Burbank and Greater East Valley.

Zach Allen from DeBell’s Pro Shop gives advise on putting to this group of kids from the Boys and Girls Club. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

PGA Professional Scott Scozzola, DeBell Golf Course, welcomed children from the Burbank Club to his facility on Monday, Oct. 8, for a clinic that culminates the PGA Sports Academy powered by UnitedHealthcare program conducted at the Boys & Girls Club.

Scozzola, who has been instructing Club members for the last four weeks at the Boys & Girls Club facility using special golf training equipment, gave participants, many for the first time, the opportunity to experience green grass golf play.

Burbank’s DeBell Pro Shop Golfer Zach Allen watches one of several golfers line up the putt. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

• With this partnership, golf opportunities will be available to Boys & Girls Club members and their families, including special golf fun days at local Boys & Girls Clubs, family days at local courses, invitations to golf clinics and tournaments, and the development of league play. There are 47 cities selected to host these programs, including Burbank.

• Golf training, equipment and instructional support from PGA/LPGA Professionals will be provided through this partnership to help youth build character, develop healthy lifestyles, and learn the game of golf.

• Local PGA and LPGA Professionals will provide the golf instruction to the junior golfers at the facility. The instruction is all part of the PGA Sports Academy powered by UnitedHealthcare curriculum and includes elements of health and wellness with golf-based activities.

 

 

(Photo by Ross A. Benson)