Red Sky Golf Course
Although they faltered in the NCAA tournament last year, members of UCLA women’s golf are not going into this season with a chip on their shoulders.
They were ranked No. 1 for the majority of 2011-2012, but an 8th-place finish in the NCAAs cost them the title that so many thought was guaranteed to fall into their hands.
The Bruins see the loss and acknowledge it as a part of their past, but are moving on.
“It just depends on how you look at it. Everything is either a bad thing or a good thing. If we take this as positive, we get to learn from it, see where we feel pressure,” said coach Carrie Forsyth. “We’ll get a lot of good information.”
The team still has three players who were on the 2010-2011 title winning squad ““ they were young then, but now take the role of wise veterans. Junior Ani Gulugian, redshirt senior Lee Lopez and senior Tiffany Lua will look to lead their team through a strong year.
The Bruins only lost two seniors from last year’s team and added two strong freshmen, Jacquie LeMarr and Louise Ridderstrom.
In fact, the duo will get its chance to dive into college golf right off the bat, because of the absence of three key players, sophomores Kyle Roig and Erynne Lee, and Lua. LeMarr and Ridderstrom will travel with the team to Colorado for the Golfweek Collegiate Invitational.
Lee and Roig are competing for the United States and Puerto Rico, respectively, at the World Amateur Team Championship in Turkey.
Lua has a wrist injury that will keep her out of the first two tournaments. As a senior who has been a hefty contributor during her UCLA career, it will be tough for the team to go so long without her swinging away ““ two tournaments is half of their fall schedule.
While the leap into college golf will be sudden for Ridderstrom and LeMarr, the freshmen have plenty of support behind them from their teammates.
Lee, who is currently living with the freshmen, is giving them advice. Having received lots of early playing time last year as a freshman, she knows just what to say to them.
“I’ve told them that as time comes they’ll get more comfortable. When I was a freshman I was so nervous, but I told them you just really have to embrace that nervousness and fear,” Lee said.
Lee might have been nervous as a freshman, but it certainly never showed. She came out of last season the Bruins’ highest scorer, and had accolades heaped upon her, including Pac-12 and National Golf Coaches Association Freshman of the Year titles.
“Having that experience, I feel more confident in my game and in myself. I can acknowledge that I did well and move on to this year’s goal, which is winning a national title,” Lee said.
The Bruins have put their 2011-2012 season well behind them and are channeling their energy into the coming year.
“We need to focus on what makes us specifically better individually … there’s nothing to look back on, because we’re looking ahead,” Lua said.