Avid golf fans and casual fans alike were watching the final round of the Masters Tournament on Sunday. Those who watched witnessed a rousing day of golf, which took place on one of the United States’ most respected golf courses, Augusta National Golf Club.
After its last tournament, which happened to be played in Augusta, Ga., the UCLA men’s golf team got a chance to attend the first day of practice for the Masters. Naturally, several players on the team followed up that experience by tuning in to coverage of the tournament themselves.
“I watched every minute of it,” sophomore Mario Clemens said. “I just like to see good golf, and all the players performed their best. It was exciting to watch.”
Alister MacKenzie, a world-renowned golf architect, designed Augusta National as well as the Pasatiempo Golf Club course in Santa Cruz, home to the Western Intercollegiate tournament, which the Bruins will be participating in this weekend.
Last year, the Bruins finished second at the tournament, which is hosted by San Jose State. Heading into this year’s tournament, several of the golfers on the team said they enjoyed playing on Pasatiempo’s unique layout.
“It’s kind of a different course, old-fashioned style. The greens are very sloping; you have to play to the right tiers,” sophomore Pedro Figueiredo said. “It’s a course where you have to have imagination and be creative. You’ve got to take advantage of that.”
The No. 2 Bruins will hope to use the course to their advantage and outlast the field of 15 teams that include top competitors such as No. 7 Augusta State and No. 11 San Diego State.
Unlike many of the tournaments UCLA attends, the Intercollegiate will be played in the six-count-five format in which six players on each team compete, with the team’s lowest score being dropped each round. This allows UCLA to carry one more player than normal, which is beneficial heading into the Pac-10 Championships at the end of the month.
“I think we worked hard all year for this one time of the year,” Clemens said. “We’re all getting ready for the postseason.”
Clemens and Figueiredo will be joined by freshmen Patrick Cantlay and Anton Arboleda, sophomore Pontus Widegren, and junior Gregor Main.
Cantlay, the No. 2 golfer in the country, was recently selected as one of 10 semifinalists for the Ben Hogan Award, college golf’s most prestigious honor.
As freshmen, Cantlay and Arboleda are the only golfers competing for the Bruins this weekend who did not take part in the team’s second-place finish last season.
The Bruins have been in a bit of a slump as of late, recording two of their worst finishes of the season in their last two tournaments.
But after a solid week of practice and qualifying, Widegren said that he thinks the team can turn it around this weekend.
“I think we’re all ready to play well again, and we’re all determined to play better than we did last week,” he said. “Everyone’s really taking care of their stuff on their own and getting ready to play.”