Playing for the nation’s No. 1 collegiate golf team as a freshman comes with enough stress as it is; learning the ropes as the team goes through a major transition is even more trying.
UCLA’s freshmen, Kyle Roig and Erynne Lee, have managed to produce for the team in its time of need, after the Bruins lost Stephanie Kono to the pros in December.
The transition between high school and college golf is major, and Lee has relied on her teammates to help foster the adjustment.
“I was really lost the first quarter, but older students answered all the questions I had. They were so helpful,” Lee said.
According to Lee, her high school was small ““ the polar opposite of UCLA.
However, the familial feel of her team helped her find a place on campus to call her own.
“We have a tight bond that a lot of other teams don’t have ““ we hear that all the time. It’s a really warm group,” Lee said.
That warmth was one of the factors that led Lee to the hills of Westwood.
Close friendship helps the UCLA golf team to be even more competitive.
Lee praised coach Carrie Forsyth and assistant coach Alicia Um-Holmes for organizing such a consistently successful program.
Though she mentioned several times that she had a tough time adjusting to college life at first, Lee has obviously managed to find her groove.
She is ranked 14th nationally, has two top-10 finishes already on the season and has competed in three of the Bruins’ four tournaments so far.
Roig has also competed in three tournaments this season and had her best performance at the Rainbow Wahine Invitational, where she placed 11th.
The duo has several highly experienced players to glean advice from, including junior Tiffany Lua, who was just chosen as one of five members of the United States’ Curtis Cup Team.
This is Lua’s second time on the team, and she is the only returning member.
“When you wear the red, white and blue, you’re competing for somebody other than yourself. It’s an amazing feeling,” Lua said.
The process of qualifying for UCLA’s traveling team, according to Lua, is like a tournament in and of itself. On an already talented team, a limited few can actually go to events and compete.
Though the Bruins lost Kono, a mainstay of the traveling roster, it has become no less challenging to travel with the team.
Their depth has assured the Bruins that they have several able competitors waiting in the wings.
“We have a deep team,” Lua said. “We constantly have to push ourselves and concentrate on our goals.”
Lua has made sure to offer herself up as a source of help for Roig and Lee, but, she said, in her opinion, they have come into their own easily.
“They’re so mature. I say if they need help feel free to ask, but they’ve been strong and doing so awesome,” Lua said.