The men’s golf team took a big step forward on its road to a national title, cruising through the NCAA’s Tempe Regional. After a year of competing in tournaments against the nation’s elite from the Pac-12, the Bruins took advantage of new opponents that comprised the field at the NCAA Regionals in Tempe, Ariz.
The Bruins dominated the competition, turning in an all-around team performance, with four golfers finishing in the top 10, to run away with a 17-stroke victory. Coach Derek Freeman said he was pleased with his team’s performance, which earned the Bruins their third regional title in his six-year tenure.
“We had a mission we were trying to accomplish and we went out and played really well, played smart and played aggressive,” Freeman said. “We had someone play really well every single day and I think that was a big key. When you have all five guys playing well each round, it allows for the team to be extremely successful, and that’s what happened.”
Leading the way for UCLA was freshman Jonathan Garrick, who fired an 202 (-8) to tied for second in Tempe. Junior Anton Arboleda and senior Pedro Figueiredo finished just a stroke back of Garrick and tied for fourth place, while senior Pontus Widegren shot 4-under par for the tournament to end up in a tie for 10th. Sophomore Manav Shah rounded out the strong weekend for UCLA, finishing at even-par for the tournament and tied for 23rd.
By finishing in the top five of the regional, UCLA earns the right to head to the NCAA championships in Atlanta later this month. There, the Bruins will attempt to win their second national championship under Freeman, and their first since 2008. With the way they’ve been playing, Freeman said he likes their chances.
“I think we’ve been playing well all year; we’ve just been overshadowed a bit by Cal because they’re a great golf team, one of the best that’s ever played,” Freeman said. “But our guys have played well all season, and that showed when we went down and dominated in Tempe.”
After finishing second behind California at numerous tournaments throughout the year, Freeman said the Bruins found the regional championship to be quite gratifying. While their sights are still set on a national title, Freeman used this victory to remind his team just how good they’ve been.
“As I told our team, ‘You have to remember how good you are and how well you’ve played,’” Freeman said. “‘You deserve all of this and just know that you’ve played extremely well all year long.’”
Compiled by Adam Colman, Bruin Sports contributor.