If the Ping/Golfweek season preview tournament is a precursor for the remainder of the season, the UCLA men’s golf team should book its plane tickets for a return flight to Stillwater, Okla., in May.
The Bruins wrapped up the three-day tournament Tuesday by taking second place as a team, falling to host Oklahoma State by four strokes. The Bruins fired a total score of 882 (+18) on a Karsten Creek Golf Course that challenged everyone in attendance.
Individually, Bruin sophomore Pontus Widegren captured the first individual title of his collegiate career, firing a 214 (-2).
Widegren was the only player to finish the tournament under par and overtook Georgia’s Hudson Swafford for the lead in Tuesday’s final round by shooting a 69 (-3). He carded five birdies and two bogeys on Tuesday, still coming away with the win after a bogey on the par-4 17th. Widegren became the first Bruin to win a tournament outright since Kevin Chappell won the 2008 NCAA individual championship. Widegren tied for third at two tournaments as a freshman, most notably at the Battle of the Beach where the Bruins stormed back on the final day to win the tournament.
The Swede was hard at work over the summer, playing for the European Palmer Cup team in June. The Palmer Cup is the collegiate equivalent of the ever-popular Ryder Cup that pits the best American golfers against the best European players.
But Widegren wasn’t the only young UCLA player to impress at the tournament. True freshman Patrick Cantlay tied for 21st with a 224 (+8) in his first tournament as a collegiate golfer. Cantlay made it to the semifinals of the U.S. amateur championship at the end of August, falling in match play to Oklahoma State’s Peter Uihlein, who tied Swafford for second place in Tuesday’s event.
Cantlay was the only true freshman competing for the Bruins in the tournament, a welcome change from last year when Widegren, Pedro Figueiredo and Mario Clemens rounded out the lineup with regularity.
Juniors Alex Shi Yup Kim and Gregor Main played well at the tournament, with another year of experience under their belts.
Main tied with Cantlay for 21st, and Kim tied for 33rd with a final score of 228 (+12). Sophomore Figueiredo’s score of 229 (+13) was not attributed to the team total, as teams are only allowed to count four out of their five scores.
The Bruins have about a month off before heading to Atlanta, Ga., for the U.S. Collegiate Championship.
Compiled by Sam Strong, Bruin Sports senior staff.