Saturday, May 25

Women’s golf seals NCAA’s No. 2 seed


For most collegiate golf coaches, the NCAA Regional is the most
nerve-wracking, gut-wrenching, “can’t bare to watch but
can’t afford not to” tournament on their schedules.

Of the 21 teams in each regional field, only eight advance to
the NCAA Championships, leaving even the best teams unsure whether
their season will extend to the final tournament.

UCLA women’s golf coach Carrie Forsyth understands other
coaches’ pain. But for the last few years, she hasn’t
shared it ““ and she certainly didn’t this year.

“Thank goodness,” Forsyth said.

The Bruins took the drama out of qualifying by hovering around
the top of the leaderboard for all three days at the NCAA West
Regional, held at Washington National Golf Club in Auburn,
Wash.

They finished in second place, six shots behind first-place
Purdue, to qualify for the NCAA Championships for the sixth
consecutive year.

Second-ranked UCLA, which shot 23-over par for the tournament,
earned a No. 2 seed for the NCAA Championships in Columbus, Ohio,
and will be paired with Duke in the opening round on May 23.

The last two NCAA Championships have come down to final-round
showdowns between the Blue Devils and Bruins, who are again the top
two ranked teams in the country this season.

Though UCLA qualified with relative ease for the season’s
final tournament, any satisfaction from breezing through the
regional was tempered by disappointment for not actually winning
it.

“They’re not the happiest crowd right now because we
wanted to win,” Forsyth said. “We didn’t play
very well, so we didn’t deserve to win.

“But it’s nice to come into the last day being
(more) concerned about winning than about just trying to make it.
We’re such a good team, I just didn’t comprehend the
possibility we wouldn’t make it.”

Yet the Bruins were still forced to combat several forms of
adversity to extend their postseason.

Junior Hannah Jun, an expected starter at the beginning of the
year, competed in her first tournament of the season and showed
hardly any ill effects from injuries she sustained as a passenger
in a car accident on Dec. 10, 2005.

The junior shot rounds of 73, 80 and 75 to finish the tournament
at 12-over par and is expected to remain in the lineup for the NCAA
Championships.

Across the course from Jun, senior Susie Mathews was battling
flu-like symptoms during the second and third rounds, though that
didn’t seem to affect her scores.

Mathews finished the tournament at 4-over par and in fifth
place, tied for the highest finish on the Bruin team with freshman
Jane Park.

But the primary reason for UCLA’s second-place finish was
its performance in the second round. The Bruins shot a collective
15-over par in blustery conditions as Forsyth saw her frustrated
team attempt to force birdie opportunities, hardly converting any
of them.

“There was desperation golf going on,” Forsyth said.
“If you try to push it ““ try to force birdies ““
you’re going to make bogeys.”

It is one of the few remaining areas that Forsyth plans to
address with her team between now and the NCAA Championships.

“We’ve got time to tighten up what we need to
tighten, and I think ultimately we could use this to help us. The
one thing you don’t want to do is come into NCAAs with the
attitude that you’re unbeatable. You want to come in with a
healthy respect for your competitors,” Forsyth said.

“You can’t come in at 80 percent and expect to win.
That won’t get it done.”

But for the regional, it was more than enough.

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