The UCLA men’s golf team stepped onto the tee box Wednesday morning 11 strokes behind first-place Stanford. Eighteen holes later, it was UCLA that stood alone atop the leaderboard.
“It was tough conditions out there (Wednesday), really windy and long rough,” junior Gregor Main said. “But we battled out there and fought until the end and finished strong, which is great. It feels great to win.”
No. 1 UCLA displayed its mental toughness when it overcame a double-digit stroke deficit to win the Gifford Collegiate Championship on Wednesday.
While the Bruins jumped out to an early lead on Monday, the Cardinal leapfrogged them on Tuesday to hold first place heading into Wednesday’s final round. But the Bruins shot the best round of any team in the tournament on Wednesday with a team total of 347 (-8) to take back the lead and the victory.
UCLA finished with a three-day team total of 1074 (+9), 13 strokes ahead of second-place Stanford, and left the top of the leaderboard reading like a UCLA roster guide.
Freshman Patrick Cantlay secured first place individually with a three-day total of 207 (-6). Even after getting off to a rocky start on the front nine on Wednesday, Cantlay was the only golfer not to have a single round above par for the tournament.
“I felt good all week, I felt really comfortable and was just happy that our team was able to win, too,” Cantlay said. “I’ve been practicing really well and had been looking forward to this event for a while, and am just glad I was able to play well.”
Junior Gregor Main continued his solid play this season, finishing in a tie for seventh with a tournament total of 215 (+2). Main said that he didn’t have a great tournament in terms of striking the ball, but was able to manage his game well in order to minimize any costly mistakes.
Not far behind Main and Cantlay were sophomore Mario Clemens, who finished in a tie for 11th with a score of 217 (+4), and junior Pontus Widegren, who finished in a tie for 20th with a score of 221 (+8).
Widegren said that the CordeValle Golf Resort is one of his favorite courses, and this was apparent when looking at the two eagles on his scorecards. On Monday, Widegren drove the par-4 eighth hole and sank a 12-foot putt for eagle. On Tuesday, he was able to put himself within 4 feet of the pin after two strokes on the par-5 sixth hole.
Rounding out the scorecard for the Bruins were sophomore Pedro Figueiredo, who finished in a tie for 38th and senior Connor Driscoll, who finished in a tie for 44th.
Figueirido struggled through the first two rounds of the tournament, but fired a team-low 66 (-5) on Wednesday. Figueirido was one under par heading into the 13th hole before ripping off five birdies on his last six holes.
“I was almost last, I had nothing to lose, so I just went to the course and played my game and finished really well,” Figueirido said. “I was having a good round, and then I just got in a rhythm of making birdies. Everything was dropping and I ended up five-under and helping the team win.”
Competing as individuals were junior Alex Shi Yup Kim, sophomore Bobby Lange and freshman Anton Arboleda, who finished 18th, 56th and 26th, respectively. Because they competed as individuals, their scores were ineligible to be attributed to the Bruins’ team score.
“We were just trying to make sure we beat the two guys we were playing with,” Widegren said. “We gave ourselves great opportunities.”