Saturday, September 23

Men’s golf aims to beat Trojans at their own USC Collegiate Invitational

Connor Driscoll needs a win this week.

As the lone senior on the UCLA men’s golf team, Driscoll has accomplished plenty, including a national championship as a freshman in 2008.

But this week Driscoll has one last opportunity to do something he hasn’t accomplished yet ““ win the USC Collegiate Invitational.

“I really want to be able to say we won USC’s tournament,” he said.

So much so, that Driscoll told his teammates that they needed to “not just win it, but kick everyone’s butts.”

Driscoll and the rest of the No. 2 Bruins begin competition today at the 33rd USC Collegiate Invitational, a tournament the Bruins have won four times, but not since 2003. Last year, UCLA finished ninth.

The tournament, which is played in the five-count-four format, runs for just two days and ends Tuesday.

Aiding Driscoll in his quest to upstage the Trojans in their own tournament will be a formidable foursome of young Bruins, consisting of freshmen Patrick Cantlay and Anton Arboleda, and sophomores Mario Clemens and Pontus Widegren.

Widegren and Cantlay were both recently placed on the Hogan Award Watch List. The Hogan Award is the most prestigious individual award in collegiate golf, given to the top men’s golfer in all collegiate and amateur events in a 12-month period.

Bruin junior Gregor Main was also added to the watch list but will not be competing at this week’s tournament.

Cantlay, who is currently the No. 3 golfer in the nation, was also named the UCLA/Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week for the week of Feb. 14-21 after consecutive individual second place finishes in his last two tournaments.

“Cantlay’s a really good player. He hits it straighter than any person I’ve every played with, always on the fairway and green in regulation,” Main said. “It’s really good to have him playing this well for us.”

Cantlay’s pinpoint accuracy will surely come in handy this week at North Ranch Country Club, one of the more narrow courses the Bruins will see this year.

Widegren, who finished 33rd on the same course in last year’s tournament, said that North Ranch’s narrowness forces golfers to be patient with their game.

“It’s not one of those courses where you step up on the tee box and just fire away as long and hard as you can,” Widegren said. “It’s a course where you need to be pretty strategic and really just put your ball in the right place.”

In addition to the course, UCLA will also have to get past many of the best teams on the West Coast. The field of 15 teams includes No. 12 San Diego State, No. 14 Stanford and No. 17 California.

But if UCLA lives up to its No. 2 ranking, the team will give Driscoll exactly what he wants come Tuesday afternoon ““ a win.

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