When the UCLA men’s golf team wins, it wins in style.
For the second time this season, the Bruins orchestrated a come-from-behind win on the final day of a tournament.
On Tuesday, UCLA erased a five-stroke deficit en route to a first-place finish at the Battle at the Beach, a tournament the team co-hosts with Long Beach State at Pelican Hill Golf Resort in Newport Beach.
“We came from behind last year in this event; it almost seems like (coming from behind is) what we do,” said senior Connor Driscoll, who shot a 206 (-4), and was one of only five golfers under par for the tournament.
“We knew the course was playing tough out there, and we knew that if we just played smart as a team we had the ability to make up that five-stroke deficit pretty easily,” he said.
In addition to winning the tournament as a team, the Bruins also took home two of the top three individual spots. Freshman Patrick Cantlay continued his impressive play and finished in second place by a single stroke with a tournament total of 205 (-5), while Driscoll finished in a tie for third.
Sophomore Pontus Widegren, who finished in a tie for 17th with a score of 215 (+5), said that although both of UCLA’s victories this season have been come-from-behind wins, the team has enough talent that they should not have to come back to emerge victorious.
“We know that we can win against any school, we can beat any golf team in the country,” Widegren said. “When we all play well, there’s no team in the country that has a chance against us. We know that if we all put a good round together, we will end up on top.”
Further down the leaderboard for the Bruins were sophomore Mario Clemens and juniors Gregor Main and Alex Kim, who finished 22nd, 50th and 66th, respectively.
Although Kim was the highest finisher on the team, his scores dropped every day of the tournament, and his 69 (-1) on the final day was instrumental in the Bruins’ comeback.
“I just really wanted to not put too much pressure on myself, just go out there and have fun,” Kim said. “I was just way more relaxed out there that last round. I think that’s a big part, just being in a good state of mind.”
Freshman Anton Arboleda finished in a tie for 14th after shooting 214 (+4), while sophomore Bobby Lange finished 79th with a total score of 239 (+29). However, both Arboleda and Lange competed as individuals, and neither was eligible to contribute to UCLA’s team score.
The Bruins have finished no higher than third place in their five tournaments this year, and the team’s solid performance has many thinking back to their 2008 championship season.
“I think we’re every bit as good as that (2008) team; we have the ability, just like that team did,” said Driscoll, the only remaining player from the 2008 squad. “I think if we all stay motivated and stay excited to play, and not let ourselves get burnt out through this long, intense spring season, we should have a good shot at the national championship.”
The Bruins should be more than motivated when they head to their next tournament at the end of the month ““ the USC Invitational.