The UCLA men’s golf team’s performance at the Pac-10 Championship this weekend was equivalent to just missing a putt. It looked like the team had a chance up until the very end, but once it got to the hole it rolled around the edge and stopped a few inches away.
Although it appeared that UCLA had a chance for a comeback win down the stretch ““ something the No. 2 Bruins are no strangers to this year ““ they fell just a few strokes short of victory on Sunday and finished third at the Pac-10 Championship at Stanford Golf Course in Palo Alto.
“I think we did a really good job of giving ourselves a chance,” sophomore Pontus Widegren said. “We had three rounds under par, and we really needed low rounds (Sunday). Unfortunately we ended up a few shots shy of where we wanted to end up.”
With a four-round team score of 1418 (+18), the Bruins finished three strokes behind No. 21 Southern California and No. 22 Oregon, which were tied for first at the end of four rounds before USC eventually won in a playoff.
Individually, UCLA had three golfers finish in the top 11. Junior Alex Kim led the Bruins with a third place finish with a score of 277 (-3). Freshman Patrick Cantlay finished in a tie for ninth place with a score of 283 (+3) and Widegren finished tied for 11th with a total of 284 (+4).
Further down the leaderboard for the Bruins were sophomore Pedro Figueiredo at 22nd with a score of 287 (+7), junior Gregor Main at 30th with a score of 290 (+10) and senior Connor Driscoll at 56th with a score of 305 (+25).
Martin Trainer of USC and Alex Moore of Oregon State tied for first place at four under and went into a playoff at the conclusion of the tournament, where Trainer was eventually crowned the Pac-10 Champion.
Before the tournament, UCLA coach Derek Freeman said that the Stanford Golf Course greens were likely to be “nice and fast,” and he was right on the money, especially during Friday’s two rounds.
Figueiredo said that the firm greens made for fast putting, which, when combined with the strong winds, translated into high scores in the first two rounds.
The second hole, a 483-yard par-four, was particularly difficult for golfers on Friday when they were forced to hit into the wind, and UCLA was no exception.
“It’s a tough hole,” Widegren said. “It was a long one, kind of a dog-leg turning from right to left, so you really had to shape your shot into the fairway, and the rough was really thick. I think a lot of guys were in trouble after that tee shot.”
Friday’s second round accounted for the Bruins’ highest team total of the tournament at 10 over. Over the next two days the Bruins lowered their score each day to seven over on Saturday and two under on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough.
While the Bruins still have the NCAA Championships to look forward to on May 31, this tournament still left the Bruins with a bitter taste in their mouths.
“We’re all disappointed because our goal was to win, and we came pretty close but just a little short,” Figueiredo said. “We’re all a little disappointed with our third place finish.”