UCLA men’s golf took home a fourth-place finish at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate this weekend, one of the most competitive tournaments of the year per coach Derek Freeman.
“This is probably the best tournament field wise of the entire fall,” Freeman said. “There is not a tougher tournament in the entire country than what we’ve just played in this week that has all the top teams and all the top players in the world.”
The No. 22 Bruins had the most consistent scores in the field, but didn’t have the breakout round needed to move into contention.
UCLA shot a team-best seven-under in round three and never finished worse than five-under.
“Each day was solid, but we’d never (had) all five guys play really well and that’s what led to us not having amazing scores,” said junior Cole Madey. “We’d have two or three good rounds and then the fourth guy would have an even or one-over.”
No. 3 Oklahoma State won the tournament with a final score of 27-under-par.
Madey had the best individual week of the five Bruin golfers that competed. He shot three-over-par on day one, but improved in rounds two and three where he would finish three-under-par and five-under-par respectively.
“I played pretty (poorly) the first round and was pretty frustrated, so I had to take a step back and try to get back to basics,” Madey said. “I didn’t try to get aggressive, stayed patient and tried to pick apart the golf course.”
Madey finished tied for 12th place on the individual leaderboard with teammate freshman Eddy Lai.
Lai’s weekend went opposite of Madey’s in that his scores increased round by round. His best round was the first, shooting three-under-par, and then he shot two-under and even-par on days two and three.
He said his game still has some things to be worked out, but doesn’t feel that it is far off.
“I haven’t hit the ball too well, but it’s been pretty straight,” Lai said. “If I can just hit the ball better off the tee and give myself more chances from the fairway and better looks at birdie, I feel like that would help me a lot.”
Freeman said he has also been impressed with the freshman’s recent play and said that his success comes from his work ethic.
“He has done an incredible job as a freshman coming in and playing well,” Freeman said. “He is a grinder, he works hard and he is never out of a golf round.”
Lai has finished in the top 20 on the individual leaderboards in each of his first three collegiate tournaments.
Three other Bruins competed at the tournament including sophomore Hidetoshi Yoshihara who finished tied for 23rd. Freshman Devon Bling and senior Tyler Collier each finished outside of the top 50.
UCLA’s next team competition will be at the Warrior Princeville Makai Invitational in Princeville, Hawaii, between Sunday and Oct. 31st.
“We’re going to need to make a lot of 10-to-15 footers,” Freeman said. “It’s a very scorable tournament and golf course so if we do a good job of placing the ball where we need to, I think we are going to be in great shape.”