Tuesday, September 26

No. 1 women’s golf to face fierce competition

It is that time of year for the UCLA women’s golf team, when all of the lessons learned over the season must be remembered.

The strategies have to be carefully planned out and each teammate must be on her game if she hopes to come out on top as the Bruins compete in the Pac-10 Championship this week.

The Bruins left for Eugene, Ore. on Saturday to prepare for today’s opening of competition on the Eugene Country Club.

One could peg UCLA as the favorite to win the Tournament, but in the highly competitive Pac-10, everything is not so cut and dry. Arizona State has proven to be a powerhouse and has been UCLA’s main rival throughout the season.

UCLA and ASU have consistently finished near each other on the leaderboards and had still been jostling over the top spot down to the final weeks. The Bruins and Sun Devils now find themselves ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation, respectively.

The Bruins recently notched back-to-back tournament wins and are riding high after overcoming a daunting 12-shot deficit in the final round of last weekend’s PING/ASU Invitational. The win served not only as a confidence boost, but as a statement to the rest of the field.

But in the ever-stacked Pac-10, the Bruins will certainly have their hands full. The field that assembles today is an impressive one. Of the 10 teams competing in the tournament, five of them are ranked in the top 25 in the country.

Arizona State will once again be the biggest threat of the field, with No. 5 USC not far behind. UCLA coach Carrie Forsyth said it’s a toss-up among UCLA, ASU and USC.

The Bruins are not too familiar with the Eugene Country Club, but the course layout seems to fit UCLA’s style of play. The course is heavily lined with trees, narrowing the margin for error off the tee.

Any team that hopes to win will have to place a premium on its drives and think its way around the course. The Bruins’ bread and butter so far this season has been accurate ball striking and they have been putting themselves in positions to score.

“Because it demands a lot of accuracy, it gives us an advantage,” Forsyth said. “We hit a lot of greens as a team. They’re hitting 14 or 16 greens a round. That’s a lot.”

To add to the difficulty of the course, the golfers will also have to battle the elements, as rain and stormy weather are being forecast for the tournament’s three-day stretch.

The pressure of Pac-10 competition and conference supremacy will be on the line and the golfers will be tested not only physically, but also mentally by the course’s demanding layout and imminent weather issues. With all of these variables undoubtedly adding up in the golfers’ minds, Forsyth has been trying to simplify things.

“We have to put the game back to the basic form,” she said. “They’ll need to form a game plan and execute to the best of their ability. We’re preparing for poor weather and know it’s going to be cold and rainy. We’ve done really well in cold conditions in the past so hopefully that will hold up.”

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