Monday, August 19

Women’s golf in place to bring home 100th title


After the UCLA women’s golf team captured the national
championship in 2004, coach Carrie Forsyth had the hats of each
Bruin on the team adorned with the number “92.”

It was a reminder that the five golfers who took home the NCAA
Championship trophy from Opelika, Ala., that year were part of
UCLA’s championship tradition, bringing home the
program’s 92nd national title.

This year, Susie Mathews, Hannah Jun, Amie Cochran, Jane Park
and Tiffany Joh have an opportunity to stake a much bigger claim to
UCLA lore, not to mention trophy cabinet space in the J.D. Morgan
Center.

“It was nice to be 92,” Mathews said. “But it
was at that point we started thinking about 100.”

Yet while the second-ranked Bruins have enjoyed contemplating
the significance of clinching UCLA’s 100th national title,
they profess it will be the least of their concerns as they tee off
today in the first round of the NCAA Championships at the Ohio
State University Scarlet Course in Columbus, Ohio.

“We won’t be thinking about it once we’re
there,” Mathews said.

In fact, Forsyth thinks the Bruins, winners of three of their
last four tournaments, don’t have to do much thinking at
all.

Their putting is crisp.

Their ball striking is pure.

Their nerves are nonexistent.

“One thing that we need to really do a lot better job of
at the NCAAs is avoid having the girls aware of how they stood to
par,” Forsyth said. “They got a little wrapped up in
the score rather than just playing each shot. That type of thinking
wasn’t conducive to good scoring.”

Their own impatience is not all that the Bruins will have to
combat in Columbus over the next four days in order to bring back
UCLA’s 100th national championship:

The weather

While the conditions for the first two rounds appear to be
partly cloudy skies and warm temperatures, the forecast calls for
thunderstorms during the last two rounds, which could push the
four-day event into the weekend. But that may not be a detriment to
UCLA.

The last time the NCAA Championships’ schedule was altered
because of weather conditions was in 2004, when the Bruins
capitalized on the respite offered by a sporadic thunderstorm to
win the national title.

The course

The Scarlet Course on the Ohio State University campus,
measuring over 7,000 yards from the back tees, is as foreign to the
Bruins as a last-place finish.

Though in previous years UCLA was invited to play a practice
round on the course hosting the championship, that wasn’t
possible on the Scarlet Course, which over the past two years
underwent a $4.2 million renovation and only recently was
reopened.

The result is a course battered by inclement weather and a
layout that none of the Bruins knows much about. “We
haven’t even seen it,” said Forsyth prior to traveling
to Columbus last Friday. “All we know is that the course has
been drowning in water.”

The opponent

The last two NCAA Women’s Golf Championships came down to
final-round showdowns between UCLA and Duke. Again this year, the
Bruins and Blue Devils have separated themselves from the rest of
the teams in Division I.

Today and Wednesday, the two teams will get an up-close and
personal view of one another, as UCLA and Duke will be paired
together for at least the first two rounds, and potentially
more.

“Playing with (Duke) is going to be fun,” Mathews
said.

The x-factor

For the next four days, her name will be Hannah Jun. Jun played
only one tournament this season after recovering from spinal
injuries sustained as a passenger in a car accident on Dec. 10,
2005. She will be asked to bring a consistency to UCLA that has
been lacking for much of the season. Though she is one of the
Bruins’ shorter drivers of the golf ball, when healthy, she
is one of the team’s most consistent scorers.

And at the grueling four-round, 72-hole NCAA Championship
tournament, avoiding a potentially bad score is more significant
than posting a good one.

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