San Diego Country Club will be hosting a marathon today and tomorrow and, rather than running, its participants will be walking and carrying golf clubs.
The No. 4 UCLA men’s golf team is one of 15 teams playing 54 holes, a number which is normally played over three days, in just two.
Teams will play 36 holes today and 18 Tuesday, something which will demand mental and physical endurance from the Bruins in order to succeed.
“You play from when the sun goes up to when the sun goes down. It’s important to stay in it the whole day,” said junior Pontus Widegren.
“The two-day events are decided very much on the last nine holes of the first day because that’s when you’ve been out there for seven or eight hours and still need to finish it off and carry momentum into the final day.”
Mental sharpness has been the point of emphasis throughout the week for the Bruins, and their coaches hope it leads to taking advantage of scoring opportunities, which the team wasn’t able to accomplish two weeks ago at the Amer Ani Invitational in Hawaii.
“We made plenty of birdies, we just didn’t play the par 5s very well. We constantly want to make sure we’re making the right decisions at the right time,” said coach Derek Freeman.
Securing a victory at the San Diego Intercollegiate Classic will be made more difficult by the absence of sophomore Patrick Cantlay, who will miss the event in order to prepare for his appearance in the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open later this week.
Filling in for Cantlay is freshman Jay Hwang, who recently participated in the Farmer’s Insurance Open, missing the cut by one stroke.
This will be Hwang’s third appearance on the traveling team in his freshman year after appearing in two events in the fall.
Although he’s never played the San Diego Country Club course, Hwang, whose hometown is San Diego, will have the advantage of being in familiar surroundings.
“We really felt like (Hwang) deserved the opportunity to play and show what he’s ready to do. (The tournament) is close to his home and anytime you can feel more comfortable, you play better,” Freeman said.
For the Bruins, who haven’t won an event since October, the trip to San Diego provides an opportunity to capture a win as they look to build momentum for upcoming tournaments and into the rest of the spring season.
“Going into this tournament, we have a mindset of getting back to the winner’s circle. It’s been a while since we won,” said senior Alex Kim. “We had a big break and we didn’t play well in Hawaii, so now we’re concentrated on winning the upcoming tournament. We just want to get started in the right place.”