In the world of golf, there is one tournament that stands above the rest: the Masters. Even for collegians, there is a certain aura surrounding the event with the same name as the illustrious tournament in Augusta, Ga.
This weekend, the UCLA men’s golf team will send seniors Pedro Figueiredo and Pontus Widegren, junior Anton Arboleda, redshirt sophomore Manav Shah, and freshman Jonathan Garrick to Las Vegas to compete in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters.
That is not the only tournament for the Bruins this weekend. They will also be competing in the Bandon Dunes Championship at Old Macdonald golf course in Bandon, Ore. But the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters will bring intense competition for those who travel to Las Vegas.
The Bruins know they’ll have to hit their shots just right since they’ll be facing both a difficult course, with fast and firm greens, as well as elite competition.
“It’s probably the best overall tournament we play all year. The course is very challenging,” Arboleda said. “It’s the toughest field we’ll face all year.”
The Bruins welcome the challenge and come into the tournament on a hot streak, as they have recorded either a team or individual victory in both of their tournaments in 2013. Perhaps the hottest among them is Figueiredo, who is coming off his first individual victory of the year two and a half weeks ago at the Prestige at PGA West tournament in La Quinta, Calif..
“I just want to keep that momentum going. I’m excited about this tournament because I know I’ve been playing well. Coming off of a win you get a lot of momentum so you just try to keep that going as long as possible. That tournament is over but you want to carry that momentum into this week,” Figueiredo said.
Along with Figueiredo, the tournament’s top competitors will include fellow Bruin Widegren, who will be seeking his second individual victory of the season at an event where he placed second last year. If they can stay near the top of the leaderboard, combined with strong performances from the rest of the starters, the Bruins will be able meet their expectations for a team win.
“As a team, there is no reason we shouldn’t go there and win the tournament,” Widegren said. “We have a really strong squad that can compete with anyone in the country. We’re going there with a lot of confidence and belief in ourselves.”