UCLA’s past and present, and the PGA Tour’s future are converging on Riviera Country Club as the Northern Trust Open enters its second round of play today.
The field includes former Bruin, Kevin Chappell, who graduated in 2008, as well as current UCLA star and No. 1 amateur golfer in the world, sophomore Patrick Cantlay.
It will be Cantlay’s first PGA Tour appearance since October when he made the cut in the Frys.com Open, and his experience at the professional level has him feeling comfortable.
“It’s actually a big key for me to kind of take pressure off myself and kind of let myself play and let it happen as opposed to trying to do so much,” Cantlay said.
“Sometimes I get out here and I almost feel less pressure because I feel like I can just let it happen.”
Although his absence from the team is evident, the long-term gains for Cantlay and the No. 3 UCLA men’s golf team far outweigh the negative short-term effects experienced while he’s away from the team preparing for PGA Tour events.
“(Patrick) is gaining knowledge and experience that can’t be replaced,” coach Derek Freeman said. “What he’s gaining this week by going through the practice rounds, playing in Pro-Ams, and going through the media storm is going to prepare him better for the PGA than playing a college event.”
Chappell, a former UCLA standout, is eager to revisit to a place where he has experienced success before.
“This will be my second time playing (the Northern Trust Open), and I think I’m a little more mature than last time,” Chappell said.
“It will be great to have some support from the Bruin family and play a course I’m familiar with.”
In his time at UCLA, Chappell, who led the Bruins to a national championship and won the Fred Haskins award in 2008, established the model for success under a new regime.
“Kevin was the perfect example of how it works at UCLA,” said Freeman, who took over the head coaching position in Chappell’s final year at UCLA. “He was a very hard worker, had goals and didn’t let anything get in his way. He kept getting better and better every single year.”
Chappell will be seeking his first career PGA Tour win this weekend, while Cantlay will try to carry over his Tour success from the last year.
Despite his amateur status in the professional event, Cantlay fully expects to keep up with UCLA alum Chappell as well as the rest of the field.
“I definitely feel confident enough to win no matter what tournament I’m playing in if I play well,” Cantlay said. “I try and not put any expectations on myself or anything because I think that allows you to play your best.”