The distinctive hiss of a golf ball slicing through the air is commonplace during a Thursday morning at the Bel-Air Country Club.
The source? Almost always a Bruin golfer, sharpening his skills in preparation for upcoming competition.
But Thursday’s scene included six unusual suspects, as the No. 5 UCLA men’s golf team competed against No. 7 USC in preparation for the upcoming Pac-12 tournament.
“I thought of it as the battle of L.A.,” said junior Anton Arboleda. “It was a good test for us as we get ready for the Pac-12 tournament. They’re a good team with some very solid players. They’re ranked highly, but we’re ranked a little bit higher. I think the rankings speak for themselves.”
Arboleda was one of three Bruins who bested their opponents in the head-to-head match play event, beating fellow junior Jeffrey Kang 3&2.
“I felt comfortable all day; it was nice to play a tournament round right here in L.A. It really felt like a home match. I had a pretty large margin of victory today, so it was nice to come out with the win. I feel very confident, I’ve been working with my coach and things are starting to come together. I’m excited for the rest of the season,” Arboleda said.
As a team, UCLA tied USC, splitting the event with three wins apiece. Senior Pontus Widegren and sophomore Jay Hwang seized the other two victories for the Bruins.
Senior Pedro Figueiredo, who has been red-hot of late, fell to Trojan senior Sam Smith, a loss that did little to dampen the spirits of the Portuguese native.
“The intent of this match was to add a little bit of intensity to a practice day before the Pac-12 tournament. You always want to beat your opponent, especially when it’s USC,” Figueiredo said.
“Both schools have a special rivalry, so there was definitely some extra motivation to play well. Unfortunately, I didn’t win, but I had a good game and day overall.”
The loss is unlikely to jeopardize Figueiredo’s place in the starting lineup. However, as UCLA prepares for both the Pac-12 tournament and NCAA tournaments, coach Derek Freeman took notice of today’s performances.
“We’re mostly going to be evaluating who’s going to step into that sixth spot. Right now it’s between Lorens (Chan) and Jay (Hwang). So I feel like there’s going to be a little added pressure on those guys moving forward,” Freeman said.