It is difficult to take away confidence from resounding defeat.
However, following an encouraging showing in the final round of an otherwise disappointing Pac-12 Preview performance Tuesday, sophomore Matt Pinizzotto wasn’t shy about his outlook for the underachieving UCLA men’s golf team.
“The other teams outplayed us but things are starting to get better. Next time we see them, we’ll beat them out and show them how good we are,” Pinizzotto said. “They put us in our place, but we’ll improve moving forward.”
For the fourth-ranked Bruins, their tournament struggles have not been a matter of showing their considerable talent, but rather, sustaining an elite level of play throughout. In their first tournament of the year, the PING/GolfWeek Preview, UCLA dominated through two rounds before faltering in the third.
In the case of the Pac-12 Preview, the opposite held true, as UCLA played itself out of contention in the first and second rounds before putting forth a third-round score of 279 (-9) to secure a fourth-place finish.
“We were well out of the lead. People weren’t too concerned about the score and we just let things happen today instead of forcing it, which we might have done in the first two rounds,” junior Anton Arboleda said.
The Pumpkin Ridge’s Witch Hollow Course in North Plains, Ore., which hosted the Pac-12 competitors, provided some unusual challenges for the Bruins.
The course, which includes an exceptional total of five par-five holes, left little room for error and provided obstacles that once again distanced UCLA from top finishers Cal and Washington, which finished first and second, respectively.
“(The opponents) had one or two players really step up, and that’s what we need. We need one or two guys each week contending for the individual title,” Arboleda said. “If we have that every week, the rest of us are solid enough to back (those) one or two guys up.”
One player who could provide such a spark for the Bruins is senior Pedro Figueiredo, who will soon return to the lineup following his recent appearance in the Men’s World Amateur Team Championship.
The Bruins will try to apply the lessons of their past two performances toward a winning effort in the U.S. Collegiate Championships in Georgia next week.
“We played solid as a team today. We took advantage of the scoring holes and played steady, overall,” Arboleda said. “Today was good for us and gives us momentum for the next event.”
Compiled by Joseph Wilhelm, Bruin Sports contributor.