Wednesday, July 17

Women’s golf overshoots NCAA trophy


Their national-championship hopes had long since vanished and
the narrow and tormenting Scarlet Course had gotten the best of
their psyches and their scorecards. Friday’s final round of
the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships in Columbus, Ohio,
didn’t offer the Bruins the chance to catch the leaders and
claim UCLA’s illustrious 100th NCAA title. It was a tad too
late for that.

Instead it afforded them a final opportunity to play like the
second-ranked team in the country, one last chance to pick up their
golf clubs and put down their expectations.

Sophomore Amie Cochran and junior Hannah Jun seized it, the rest
of the UCLA women’s golf team didn’t, and the Bruins
only inched up the leaderboard to finish in 11th place with a
collective total of 55-over par on Friday.

“For a couple of players it was a much better day,”
UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth said. “Overall, it was a better
day. But we still had three players not play as well as they hoped.
We’re all still disappointed.”

Its finish and shot total the highest of the 2006 season, UCLA
gathered for a brief time near the 18th green after its round
before packing up the team van and heading back to the hotel.

It was in those confines, which proved to be much friendlier
than the Scarlet Course, where the Bruins watched together ““
online ““ as the championship trophy, which was theirs only
two years ago, pass once again into their opponents’
hands.

The engraver didn’t have to wait too long to start
chiseling Duke’s name onto the championship hardware on
Friday. The Blue Devils (15-over par), the first repeat champions
since 1998, finished a comfortable 10 strokes ahead of second-place
USC and an unfathomable 40 strokes in front of UCLA.

“You never anticipate having your worst event of the
season at the NCAA Championships,” Forsyth said. “We
just never caught a break.”

Forsyth said the Bruins, who arrived in Columbus on May 19, the
Friday preceding the tournament, enjoyed very strong practice
rounds leading up to the event.

Yet as soon as the NCAA Championships officially commenced, so
too did UCLA’s struggles.

The Bruins found themselves tied for 9th after the first round,
11th after the second round and 13th after the third round.

It took until the fourth and final round for two Bruins to piece
together strong rounds on the same day, as Cochran and Jun both
flirted with red figures before eventually settling for even-par
72s.

But that wasn’t nearly enough to reclaim what was lost
days earlier ““ a shot at UCLA’s 100th NCAA Title.

Of the Bruins’ 20 individual rounds during the NCAA
Championships, only five bested 4-over par (76). In comparison, the
champion Blue Devils didn’t card a round higher than 5-over
par (77) for the duration of the four-round tournament.

“I think for the younger players, it’s a little
tougher to swallow,” said Forsyth referring to freshmen
Tiffany Joh and Jane Park, who finished in ties for 68th and 83rd,
respectively.

“For the rest of us, we’ve had great NCAAs before,
so the freshmen were particularly disappointed,” Forsyth
said.

Only two years ago, it was the Bruins who had to make special
accommodations to bring the championship trophy back home to
Westwood ““ the overhead bins on the plane were barely large
enough.

Last season, the Bruins finished a close second behind Duke.

That’s what makes this season’s 11th-place finish
with conceivably a stronger team difficult to account for.

But Forsyth is trying.

“Even on a few days of thought, I think there are things
we can do in the future to be better prepared and sharper when we
go into nationals,” Forsyth said. “I thought we
didn’t play well at regionals, and to do the same thing at
nationals was disappointing. A lot of it is mental. A lot of it is
youth. A lot of it is inexperience.

“In the end, with a little more experience, we can learn
from this and be better for it.”

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