The No. 8 UCLA women’s golf team came into the desert with high hopes, looking to ride a wave of momentum to a tournament victory, one that would serve as a springboard for the upcoming postseason. Instead, the Bruins faltered in their last regular season tournament of the year, placing eighth in the PING/ASU Invitational.
UCLA finished 21 strokes behind victorious Alabama in Tempe, Ariz. at a tournament the Bruins won in 2012. The Bruins performed well on the tournament’s first and third days, but were hurt by their poor showing on day two, when they hit a collective +23. Players cited a loss of focus, coupled with arid conditions, as key factors behind that day’s subpar performance.
“We were really excited after our great first round, but in the second round I think we all just lost focus on our fundamental game,” said sophomore Erynne Lee. “We started looking towards our final outcome rather than each individual shot.”
Even in defeat, UCLA could take solace in Lee’s strong performance. Playing through a bad cold, she finished second in the tourney, hitting 209 (-7). Her performance was a continuation of her showing in the team’s last tournament, where she tied a course record on the last day of competition. Oddly enough, Lee said that playing sick provided its own advantage, allowing her to play a less stressful game.
“With the cold, I don’t feel like I was too distracted with my game, and I wouldn’t get too upset with my shots,” Lee said. “I didn’t carry the negative thoughts and aspects from my previous shots.”
With this second straight positive showing, it appears the changes in her swing Lee has been working on implementing throughout the quarter have finally begun to make an impact. She cited her putting as a key improvement she has garnered from the changes.
Lee and the team will look to carry positives like this forward into the Pac-12 tournament, which begins April 22. And while the Bruins may have lost some momentum in this tournament, they still believe they have the fundamental skills to succeed in the postseason.
“We have the potential to play well, like we did on the first day (of this tournament),” Lee said. “Eventually, we just have to make sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves, play our own game and just focus on right now rather than future results.”
Compiled by Anay Dattawadkar, Bruin Sports contributor.