Today to Sunday
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By the Numbers:
Cantlay's average finish before the Masters earlier this spring
Cantlay's finish in his only event since the Masters
To some, fear and respect are one and the same.
The No. 4 UCLA men’s golf team doesn’t need to ponder such things, though, as they incite both.
As the team enters postseason play this weekend at the Pac-12 Championship in Corvallis, Ore., untapped potential has them focused and confident in going forward.
“We always have a couple guys show up at the tournament and then the other guys struggle. I don’t think we’ve put it all together yet,” said senior Alex Kim, whose finishes have ranged from 39th to 10th. “And we’re still ranked fourth in the country, which is kind of scary. I think it’s scary how good our team can be.”
While the Bruins’ potential may be frightening for many competitors, the Pac-12 doesn’t house pushovers. Five of UCLA’s opponents at Trysting Tree Golf Club this weekend are ranked in the top-12 nationally.
“Our conference is really good, so it will be hard to win the championship,” junior Pedro Figueiredo said. “We know we have the tools to (win the Pac-12 championship). I think we’re the strongest team in our conference and if we play well, there’s nothing that could stop us from doing it.”
Something that may cause opponents to tremble is the pace sophomore Patrick Cantlay has been on since leaving for Augusta earlier this month.
In spring events leading up to the Masters, Cantlay failed to finish higher than 33rd individually. However, since then he’s commanded plenty of respect, winning the low amateur title at the Masters and finishing in second place at the Western Intercollegiate.
“He’s got confidence and he’s a great player and when great players start getting confidence they play really, really well,” coach Derek Freeman said.
Although the Pac-12 Championship won’t affect UCLA’s seeding or berth in the NCAA Championship, pride and confidence are on the line. The Bruins haven’t won the conference title since 2006.
Throughout the season, the Bruins have emphasized two things: improvement and peaking at the end of the season. With a gauntlet of tournaments and elite competition on the horizon, they will see if they have improved enough to pass the tests that await them.
“All that we’ve done so far has been preparation for the postseason,” Figueiredo said. “Everyone is playing well and I think we’re going to peak at the right time.”