Bound for UCLA
Erik Flores’ future on the links just got a little brighter.
The Nevada Union senior, who posted a top-16 finish at the U.S. Junior Amateur Tournament in San Francisco July 22, verbally committed to play for UCLA next season.
The Arizona State University (Tempe), the University of Southern California (Los Angeles) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta) were also in the running, but Flores gave the nod to a Bruin program which won 10 of 19 last season, including the NCAA West Regional crown.
“The program has really flourished over the past couple years,” he said. “Their coach is the same guy who took them from the 54th-ranked program to third in one year. And last year, they took third in the NCAAs.”
Flores had the option to skip college and chase his PGA card, but decided college golf was where he wanted to be.
“Going to college has always been my first priority. I never even thought about going pro,” he said. “I know I’m good enough, but I just don’t think I’m ready.”
“I’ve got plenty of time for that. Golf isn’t like basketball or football where you risk injury every time out. A lot of guys don’t play their best golf until they are in their 30s or 40s,” he added. “Plus, I didn’t want to miss out on college life.”
Flores added another feather to his cap when he was chosen to play for the West team at the 15th Annual Canon Cup at Caves Valley G.C. in Owings Mills Aug. 2-5.
The three-day, match-play event showcases some of the top junior golfers the nation has to offer.
Two teams of 20 – 10 boys and 10 girls – square off at venues around the nation each year Ryder Cup-style.
Some of professional golf’s biggest names have showcased their skills as juniors in the Canon Cup over the years.
Top-flight names on the mens’ side, like Tiger Woods and Charles Howell III, along with Grace Park and Beth Bauer for the women, have played in the Cup.
Flores, who made the team via a captain’s selection, was on his game from the start.
In the opening four-ball match, he teamed with Redwood City’s Jordan Cox to top the East team’s David May (N.Y) and Jarred Texter (Pa.) 1-up.
May and Brian Harman (Ga.) defeated Flores and Cox by the same score in Day 2’s foursome.
That was the last of the bad news for Flores.
He joined Pleasanton’s Paula Creamer that afternoon to top Patton Kizzire (Ala.) and Mallory Hetzel (S.C.) 5 and 4 in mixed foursome action.
Flores capped his time in the Canon Cup in style with a 4 and 3 win over Robert Gates (Fla.) in the final day’s singles match.
“I think I played just about a perfect match,” Flores said. “I had no bogeys, three birdies and an eagle. He played well too, It’s not like he gave me the match. I beat him.”
The East team won 15 1/2- 14 1/2.
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