The precision of golf demands constant retooling and modification, and it is rare for players to not work on some aspect of the game, whether swing or strategy. In the two weeks since the No. 8 Bruins last took the course, several team members have taken the opportunity to make minor adjustments in their game.
Junior Ani Gulugian has been among them, and she has seen good signs regarding the implementation of changes in her swing.
“I’ve made a lot of progress,” Gulugian said. “I really like what I’m working on and the results I’ve seen have been positive.”
Senior Tiffany Lua and sophomore Erynne Lee have also made adjustments, and they believe that these improvements will be key in determining their success at the NCAA East Regional at the Auburn University Club in Auburn, Ala., which begins today.
The Bruins are also looking to be in a proper state of mind, as lapses in focus and poor decision-making hurt them at the Pac-12 tournament. UCLA’s disappointing third-place finish did not, however, dampen the team’s confidence.
“We know bad tournaments happen, and that’s part of the game,” Lua said. “As long as we learn from (our mistakes), it was not really a waste.”
This attitude stems from the team’s understanding of its players’ strength. In its victories this season, especially the dominant showing at March’s Anuenue Spring Break Classic, UCLA has seen how well it can perform when every golfer is at the top of her game. Heading into the East Regional, the Bruins are striving to once again reach that level of performance.
They will need their best game against a field of competitors that includes the nation’s No. 2 and No. 5 teams in Alabama and Arkansas, respectively. UCLA will also be playing in unfamiliar territory, as no team member has played at the course. However, the Bruins do not believe that this will be a significant hindrance.
“As a team, there have been a couple times where we’ve come out to places we haven’t seen before and have played really well,” Lee said. “So we wouldn’t consider it a really big disadvantage that we don’t know the course.”
The Bruins will need to finish in the tournament’s top eight teams to book a spot in the NCAA championship on May 21. As that tournament approaches, it can be easy to lose focus on the task at hand, and the team has made a conscious effort to concentrate on performing well at the regional tournament. As the season nears its end, every stroke takes on heightened importance, and UCLA’s confidence will certainly be tested in Auburn.
The Bruins said they are unfazed by this challenge and are excited about what the upcoming weeks have in store. Gulugian is especially looking forward to seeing her team’s improvements at work on the course.
“We’re feeling pretty good,” Gulugian said. “We have a lot of positive energy, and this is shaping up to be a good week.”