The UCLA women’s golf team begins its spring season with high hopes and well-earned confidence.
The Bruins finished the fall season with a strong first-place finish in the Pac-10/SEC Challenge, and are hoping to replicate that standing in the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge at Palos Verdes.
The tournament is hosted by No. 2 USC and No. 25 Ohio State and will feature a diverse field of teams.
The course at Palos Verdes is deceptively tricky, with both rough and smooth greens, deep bunkers and a hilly landscape.
It will be difficult to score well if the Bruins aren’t at their top game, as evidenced by their performance at the previous Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge. The Bruins tied for fourth place because of two frustrating holes that they couldn’t score consistently on.
The No. 3 Bruins’ lineup consists of sophomore Tiffany Lua, junior Brianna Do, junior Stephanie Kono, redshirt sophomore Lee Lopez and senior Glory Yang. Freshman Ani Gulugian will be playing as an individual competitor.
“I feel really good about the team,” coach Carrie Forsyth said. “We are solid strikers, and we hit good shots. … Placing the ball in the right place is important because this course is really about short game and putting capabilities around the greens.”
The Bruins spent their off-season tightening up their short game, but Forsyth said the team will need to stay mentally tough in order to compete.
“Our biggest challenge isn’t wind and weather, because that’s something you can’t control,” Forsyth said. “It’s all about mental focus on the game and on the greens.
“How you respond to the first few holes is crucial in the way you keep your shots together, especially if you don’t play the holes well.”
Lua, ranked No. 33 by Golfweek, said the mental strength of her game comes from trusting herself.
“As long as I place myself in the right spot, there will be opportunities to score,” Lua said.
Gulugian will be an individual competitor for the first time and will use the event to assess her game independent of the rest of the team.
“It’s a different type of experience, a different mental way of handling myself,” Gulugian.
“I’m going to be cheering on the team, but I’m also going to test myself. This type of course requires you to have patience and confidence.”