For the members of the UCLA men’s golf team, with their eyes set on conference and national titles, the decision of whether to relax or practice over spring break was simple: They kept working on getting better.
Coach Derek Freeman certainly said he felt they did just that.
“We had a good week in practice over the break,” Freeman said. “We’ve got a couple more tournaments before the postseason starts. Everyone is just excited for the spring season and to go out there and compete.”
The Bruins will kick off the spring season on Saturday at the Traditions Golf Course for the Aggie Invitational, hosted by Texas A&M. They will send six golfers – seniors Pontus Widegren and Pedro Figueiredo, junior Anton Arboleda, redshirt sophomore Manav Shah, sophomore Matt Pinizzotto and freshman Jonathan Garrick – to participate in the count five of six format. This will be the first trip to College Station for these UCLA golfers, presenting a unique challenge that they are eager to embrace.
“Being (on) a new course, you want to pay more attention to things in the practice rounds, fundamental things,” Widegren said. “It’s important to have a good game plan from the tee and really break down the course.”
With no way to start game-planning before they have even seen the course, the Bruins took a different approach to their preparation over spring break. Garrick, along with fellow underclassmen sophomores Preston Valder and Jay Hwang and freshman Lorens Chan, traveled to Irvine to participate in the Anteater Invitational last week. Valder led the way for the Bruins, finishing in a tie for third, while Garrick had a strong showing as well, ending up in ninth place after challenging for the lead early on.
The rest of the UCLA golfers did not have any tournaments to compete in, so they created their own mini-tournaments with one other. While practicing at the Los Angeles Country Club golf course, site of this year’s Pac-12 tournament, the Bruins used the competition with each other to continue improving.
“We really prepared well during spring break,” Figueiredo said. “While others took a break, we kept working. Now is the time of the season you want to start playing well and gearing up for the postseason.”