By Lawrence Ma
Daily Bruin Senior Staff
Jackie Tobian-Steinmann must be feeling awfully good these days, and why not? The head coach of the UCLA women’s golf team took her team to two tournaments this fall and returned home with the big trophies.
The Bruins are undefeated this season, taking team titles at the Brigham Young Invitational and last week’s Dick McGuire Invitational in New Mexico.
Undefeated? That certainly is an accomplishment, considering that each time the Bruins walk onto to the first tee, there will be at least 12 other teams (or approximately 70 other golfers) playing there with them.
And UCLA is beating them all in style. Jeong Min Park won her first collegiate title at the BYU Invite, as the Bruins blew out the field with a 28-shot win in team competition.
At Dick McGuire’s, UCLA made-up a seven-stroke first-round deficit and won by one. The Bruins defeated San Jose State and Arizona, both powerhouses in collegiate golf. Park remained hot and finished third.
Today, UCLA will tee it up at the Nike Invitational, hosted by Oregon State. It is hard to imagine, but the Bruins are attempting to go undefeated in the game of golf, and Tobian-Steinmann feels good about her chances this week.
“I do feel good about it,” she said. “I think we’ve got a good thing going this year.”
Shooting low scores is a very good thing, but it gets even better when there is confidence to go with it.
“I think that the attitude is great. I think that they all want to win and their goals are high this year. And, their confidence is up. They have this winning attitude.
“I think that they’re all striving to be the best this year. I think that’s a good combination.”
On paper, UCLA appears to be a callow squad. Jennifer Choi is the team’s only senior and there are only two juniors, in Kathy Choi and Jenny Park. But, the young Bruins have all seen their share of action.
Sophomores Jeong Min Park, Debbie Kim, and Elise Kim all carded plenty of rounds last season, a season in which UCLA finished in the top five eight times and placed third at the Pacific-10 Championships. And, UCLA has yet another blue chip recruit in Betty Chen, a freshman who played in the U.S. Women’s Open last summer.
The seasoning UCLA gained from last year, Tobian-Steinmann says, is a key for the success thus far this year.
“Once you’ve done something, you can do it again,” she said. “You can always repeat a good experience. The more you do it the better you get. The more you win, the more you expect to win. It’s kind of like a cycle.
“I think that last year was so good for us. And now that they have last year out of their way, I think that their expectations are higher. They’re just on another level.”
On another level is certainly where Jeong Min Park is. Last year, she averaged 77.45 strokes per outing and finished in the top 25 seven times. This year, she’s shooting 73.17 per round and Tobian-Steinmann attributes her better play to that winning attitude the team has developed this fall.
“They all have good, solid swings, so their swings don’t really matter,” Tobian-Steinmann said. “Only the way that they’re thinking matters. And when you have confidence in yourself and believe in yourself, you can do it.”
And there is quite a bit of confidence radiating from the team these days, if the coach’s attitude toward this week is any indication. None of the UCLA players have seen the course being used for the Nike Tournament, but the Bruins are playing so well that it probably doesn’t matter, right?
“No,” Tobian-Steinmann said. “It really doesn’t matter.”
The UCLA men’s golf team will get its season started today at the University of Nevada’s Wolf Pack Classic. The Edgewood Tahoe Country Club is the site, and a spectacular site it is. Situated 6,200 feet above sea level, the players must adjust to different distances and ball flight off their clubs, as the ball tends to carry farther in the thin mountain air. Edgewood Tahoe is 7,491 yards, Par 72, and it carries a 75.1 rating.
The 1994-95 Bruin men are led by junior Eric Lohman, who finished last year with a 75.56 scoring average. He will be joined by Trevor Arts, Fredrik Henge, Lance Graville, and Kevin Rhoads in Tahoe.
The Wolf Pack Classic field will consist of 19 teams, including No. 21 Fresno State, UC Santa Barbara, Baylor, and host Nevada. UCLA won the Wolf Pack Classic two seasons ago, with Justin Hicks taking the individual title on a two-under-par, 142 performance.