On the same day that the women’s golf team captured UCLA’s 107th national championship, the UCLA men’s golf team crept one step closer to 108 with a win at the NCAA West Regional on Saturday.
Led by freshman Patrick Cantlay, the tournament’s individual champion, the top-seeded Bruins were able to overcome a four-stroke deficit heading into Saturday’s final round to surpass USC and take home first place at the Farms Golf Course in Rancho Sante Fe.
Cantlay dominated the competition as an individual, defeating runner-up Steve Lim of USC by six strokes with a three-round score of 203 (-13), earning himself a UCLA-record fourth individual victory as a freshman.
“(Cantlay) played really, really solid this week ““ made very few mistakes, putted the ball very well, hit the ball well,” coach Derek Freeman said. “He executed the way he wanted to and stuck to his game plan, so it was nice for him to pull it off.”
In the Pac-10 Championship earlier this month, USC got the better of UCLA, as the teams finished first and third, respectively, providing the Bruins with some extra motivation in this weekend’s tournament.
The Bruins were stalled at second place behind the Trojans at the culmination of both Thursday’s and Friday’s rounds but kept themselves in striking position heading into Saturday morning.
And strike they did, as the Bruins shot their lowest round of the tournament, a six-under 282, leaving them with a first-place 854 (-10) for the weekend.
“We lost the Pac-10s to USC a couple weeks ago, so we really wanted the victory,” said sophomore Pedro Figueiredo, who finished 17th with a score of 218 ( 2). “We knew we were four behind, and all we tried was to beat the guy we played with individually. If we did that, everything would be fine.”
In addition to Cantlay and Figueiredo, sophomore Pontus Widegren and juniors Alex Kim and Gregor Main also competed for the Bruins.
Kim finished in a tie for 13th with a score of 217 ( 1), while Main and Widegren finished in a tie for 28th with scores of 220 ( 4).
“(Winning) means a lot to us,” Widegren said. “It felt great accomplishing our goal this week, which was not to make top five but to win.”
Of the 13 teams that competed in the tournament, the top five will advance to the NCAA Championship in Stillwater, Okla. The Bruins will head to Stillwater on Thursday to begin practicing for the tournament, which begins May 31.