Every year since 1993-1994, at least one UCLA team has won an NCAA title.
However, with the end of the year rapidly approaching, that streak is in jeopardy, as the Bruins have yet to add to the record 108 national team championship titles. The best hope left for championship No. 109 this year may come from the men’s golf team, which plays in the NCAA championships this week in Woodstock, Ga.
At third in the nation coming into the postseason, the Bruins are the highest-ranked UCLA team remaining, and will begin play in the NCAA tournament with some momentum after a dominant performance at regionals in Tempe, Ariz., where they cruised to a 17-stroke victory.
“It was great to have all five guys play so well (at regionals). We’re finally playing the kind of golf we know we are capable of playing, and that’s what we’re going to have to do (to win in Woodstock),” said senior Pontus Widegren. “It’s key for us to be peaking at this time of year, in the postseason, when it’s most important.”
Along with Widegren, the Bruins will send fellow senior Pedro Figueiredo, junior Anton Arboleda, redshirt sophomore Manav Shah and freshman Jonathan Garrick to compete for the national title. While the tournament is important to all the players, it carries extra meaning for Widegren and Figueiredo, since it will be the last time they get to represent UCLA.
“It’s very special. We’ve had an amazing four years here at UCLA, and this being our last tournament I am definitely looking forward to it,” Figueiredo said. “Hopefully we can all play well and end our careers at UCLA in style.”
Having had a week off since regionals, the Bruins said they are eager to get out and compete for the national title. Coach Derek Freeman said that with everyone playing so well heading into the tournament, the team has been in a good mood and everyone is very optimistic about their chances of taking home title No. 109.
“I think everyone is extremely excited. You work so hard all year long to get to this point and everyone is excited about this opportunity,” Freeman said.
“I’m sure there will be nerves once we get there and get going, but I think we’re all really looking forward to it. Everyone’s mood and game are in great shape and they’re ready to go out there and compete.”