At this point, it’s safe to say that beginner’s luck is out of the question ““ Patrick Cantlay is for real.
The freshman on the UCLA men’s golf team picked up his second individual victory of the year Tuesday after back-to-back second place finishes in his last two events.
“The fact that we have a freshman playing as well as Patrick is outstanding,” sophomore Pontus Widegren said. “He’s not just a good freshman, he’s one of the hottest and best players in college right now.”
Cantlay led the No. 2 Bruins to second place at North Ranch Country Club for the USC Invitational.
In the five-count-four tournament, UCLA shot 852 (E), losing to No. 14 San Diego State by two strokes. UCLA’s crosstown rival USC finished eighth in the 15-team field.
The Bruins held the lead in the latter portion of the third and final round and seemed to have the tournament in their grasp. A few holes over par and a strong finish by the Aztecs, however, left the Bruins in second place, with some golfers feeling as if they left a shot or two out on the course.
“It’s disappointing,” said senior Connor Driscoll, who shot 217 (4) and finished in a tie for 24th. “As the oldest player on the team and a team captain, I feel like it’s my responsibility to make something happen at the end.”
Unlike most tournaments where each golfer plays an 18-hole round each day, the USC Invitational crammmed 54 holes into two days all. On Monday, golfers played 30 holes and were on the course from sunrise to sunset, while on Tuesday, there were still 24 holes to be completed.
“It wasn’t the usual type of rhythm we’re used to, but it was the same for all teams. You’ve just got to face it.” said Widegren, who shot 214 (1) and finished in a tie for eighth place.
Rounding out the rest of the roster for UCLA were freshman Anton Arboleda, who has been playing well as of late and also finished eighth, and sophomore Mario Clemens, who finished in a tie for 57th after shooting 226 (13).
With tougher pin locations, scores inflated on the second day.
What with the cold and the grueling amount of holes that were played, excuses could have easily been made, but that wasn’t the case, as far as the Bruins were concerned.
“(SDSU wasn’t) going to give it to us, and we ended up giving it to them,” Widegren said.
With a strong team mindset and plenty of golf to be played, the Bruins are in a good position heading into the busiest portion of their season.
At this point, the only thing that seems able to beat the Bruins are themselves.