Tain Lee '12 Takes 2nd at All-America Golf Classic

On  November 23, Tain Lee '12 finished tied for second place at the Western Refining All-America Golf Classic in El Paso, Texas. Lee shot a three-round 54-hole total of 204 (-9). Champion Alex Ching of San Diego State beat out the Stag by three strokes. Ching, also a junior, tied for second at last year's Division I Championship. The field included this year's top collegiate golfers and, according to the R&A World Amateur Golf Rankings, 7 of the top 11 amateur golfers in the world. Among the 32 invited golfers, only Lee competes in Division III. Lee was the sixth D-III golfer and first Stag to participate in the event's 36 year history.

Lee led the field from the start, shooting a 7-under first round, tied for the tournament round-low. He held the lead until the 6th hole of the final round. A back-and-forth battle ensued between Lee and Ching, each trading birdies and bogies. Ching retook control after birdieing the 16th. Lee's errant tee shot on 17 into the water practically sealed the victory for Ching.

"I had a funny mix of emotions after the tournament," Lee said. "If you would have told me before the tournament that I was going to finish in second at that event I would have told you that you were kidding yourself.  At the same time I couldn't help to be frustrated to come that close and not win."

Leading up to the tournament, Lee felt the pressure as the lone Division III representative. "I would be lying if I said I didn't have a little more to play for than my competitors," Lee told the Forum, "In the last couple of years I have been fortunate enough to accomplish what I have. However, I do feel like my ability has been questioned because I have accomplished what I have, but at the D-III level." Last year, Lee captured the individual title at the Division III National Championship in his second appearance.  Additionally, Lee received the 2010 Jack Nicklaus Award as the Golf Coaches Association of America Collegiate Player of the Year for his consistent high-level of play throughout the year.  "Before the tournament, I definitely had some anxiety, wondering how I would match up against the best in the world of amateur and college golf.  To play as well as I did means a lot to me."

At the close of last year, Lee mulled over his transfer acceptance to Cal. The San Juan Capistrano native wanted to prove his worth at the D-I level. But Lee had second thoughts and changed his mind, returning to CMC this fall. "I realized the importance of getting a great CMC education and gaining a well-rounded college experience and education rather than only pursuing golf and really putting my education on the back burner," said Lee, "Yes, I would say that this tournament validates my decision to come back to CMC. It felt good to represent D-III the way I did."

Lee and his Stags golf get back to action February 4. Last season, the Stags earned the third best score in the SCIAC Championships despite two SCIAC Invitational wins over all 7 other conference teams. But the Stags return three of its top scorers in Tain Lee, Michael Liu (CMC '12), and Ryan Irish (CMC '13). The team heads into the season ranked 10th by the Golf World/Nike Coaches Preseason Poll.

Editor’s Note: This sports column is a regular feature from “The Nightcap” crew, a group of 5Cers who air a weekly radio sports talk show on KSPC. You can listen in online at KSPCstream.com or KSPC.org (click “Hear us Online via Live365”) every Monday from 8-10 PM. Want to join the radio show this year? We are looking for new people! Email us at nightcapKSPC@gmail.com!