After an unworldly string of top-40 finishes in professional tournaments over the summer, UCLA sophomore Patrick Cantlay was deemed the top amateur player in the nation.
With all of the fanfare surrounding Cantlay, it can be easy to overlook the rest of the UCLA men’s golf team as the season starts.
But the team is more than just one player, and UCLA is not considered one of the favorites to win the national title in the spring because of just Cantlay.
“We need this time to help our younger guys adjust to college golf and travel and academics, which helps us see what kind of depth we have,” coach Derek Freeman said. “I’ve been really happy with how some of these younger guys have stepped up and delivered.”
The No. 3 men’s golf team has utilized its depth greatly during the past few weeks.
This has allowed several of the younger players on the team to compete while players such as Cantlay and junior Pedro Figueiredo compete in other tournaments around the world.
“It was rough not playing with the team the past few weeks,” Figueiredo said. “It was good to get some other guys out there, but I’m really looking forward to getting back out there and competing with my team.”
One of these players is sophomore Anton Arboleda, who has stepped into one of the leading roles for the Bruin men’s gold team as they adjust to several different lineups.
Arboleda has been one of the top finishers for UCLA in the team’s tournaments thus far.
His best finish thus far has come at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational, which took place last week in Ohio. Arboleda finished ninth overall with a score of 74 ( 2).
“Obviously, Anton has had a lot of success so far, and he’s been a big part of our program,” junior Pontus Widegren said.
“He’s just one of many guys on our team who can come in and win a tournament on any given day. We are that deep.”
As UCLA tests its depth, the team has incurred some struggles, as it finished fourth and fifth in its first two competitions as a team this season.
“When we go into a tournament, we’re just trying to play to the best of our ability, learn the course as quickly as we can and get better every time,” Freeman said.
“We expect to play well every tournament, and I don’t want to say it was a disappointment for those finishes, but we definitely didn’t play as well as we could have.”
However, in the Bruins’ most recent tournament ““ the Windon Memorial Classic at the Evanston Golf Club ““ they were able to step up and come back on the final day, when they tied for 2nd place with a score of 851, 11.
This was after a monster final day where they made up a 17-stroke deficit to finish within four of the eventual winner, Arkansas.
“I was happy with how we finished,” Freeman said. “But second place is second place. It’s not what we like because we’re trying to win but more importantly we’re trying to get better and meet our potential.”