A season’s end can be a time of release, one that allows both celebration and reflection.
UCLA men’s golf’s season came to a close Thursday, with the team struggling to understand how exactly things could go so awry.
The No. 3 Bruins finished in 26th place in the NCAA championship, falling well short of qualifying for the next stage of NCAAs.
“I’m in shock,” said coach Derek Freeman. “I thought we had great preparation and a very good year overall. We played well in most tournaments, but this entire tournament, from the moment we putted out until the end of the tournament, we didn’t play well. When you get on this level, on this kind of stage, you have to perform.”
In contrast to the aftermath of their NCAA Tempe Regional victory, the Bruins departing the greens of Georgia Tech’s Crabapple Course had difficulty putting their emotions into words. UCLA finished 18-over par, 34 shots behind first-place Cal and 16 shots away from matching the cut line to be one of the eight teams advancing to match play.
One of the team leaders, senior Pontus Widegren at times found himself speechless following Thursday’s final round.
“Moments like this make you slow down and reflect on things,” said Widegren, who posted the Bruins’ top individual score. “It’s been an incredible four years, with me and (senior) Pedro (Figueiredo) coming together here from Europe. … We’ve done great things together, and that’s something that shines through in heavy moments like this.”
Widegren and Figueiredo, whose competitive history dates back to their preteen years, both focused on their college careers as a whole in the wake of the disappointing finish.
“Coming across the world to UCLA was a life-changing experience,” Figueiredo said.
“I made a lot of lifelong friendships with my coaches and teammates at UCLA, and I plan on coming back and seeing how they’re doing, and hopefully, they will come to Portugal and visit me.”
Though Thursday marked the final event of their collegiate careers, Widegren and Figueiredo have been selected as part of a 10-man team to represent Europe in the 2013 Palmer Cup.
The honor, coupled with promising professional opportunities, led Figueiredo to a resounding conclusion about his time at UCLA – the senior has no regrets.
“I had a great time and I hope everyone enjoyed having me here,” Figueiredo said. “I’ll be a Bruin for life. If I could, I would do it all again. I think these were the best four years of my life.”