UCLA men’s golf had to fight through tough conditions over its two-day tournament, but the Bruins emerged victorious on all fronts Tuesday.
No. 24 UCLA battled frost and hail delays to claim its first tournament victory of the year at the Southwestern Invitational in Westlake Village, California. Additionally, UCLA juniors Phil Delisi and Jack Ireland finished first and second, respectively, as individuals at the TMU Spring Invite in Santa Clarita, California.
“We had rain, we had sleet, we had snow, we had sunshine,” said coach Derek Freeman. “We had every element out there hitting these guys and making it tough and challenging, (but) they just battled through it.”
UCLA posted a Southwestern Invitational-best 9-under-par in round three to finish at 8-under, 20 strokes ahead of second-place No. 23 Pepperdine. Of the tournament’s 15 teams, only the Bruins were below par.
Sophomore Hidetoshi Yoshihara led UCLA with a combined 3-under-par, which placed him third on the individual leaderboard. He recorded an eagle and a birdie in the final four holes Tuesday to jump from even par to 3-under for the day.
Yoshihara said the rain was coming down hard when he made his eagle.
“I knew the putt was going to be slow, and I was able to hit it firm enough to get it to the hole,” Yoshihara said. “I usually don’t play that well in cold weather, but I was finally able to overcome it, so that was good.”
Both days of the Southwestern Invitational featured early-morning frost delays, and round two was broken up over Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.
“We were supposed to tee-off at 7:30 (on Monday morning), so we just had to sit in the parking lot,” said junior Cole Madey. “A couple of us took a nap.”
But Madey, who finished in fourth place at 1-under-par, said he thought the weather played to the Bruins’ advantage.
“I think a lot of people give up in that weather,” Madey said. “Obviously our team didn’t. … We knew that half the field was going to give up immediately when the weather got really tough, so that’s where you really can make your move.”
All five UCLA golfers finished in the top 20. Freshman Devon Bling birdied five of his final six holes to vault himself into a tie for fifth at even-par, and he was followed by senior Tyler Collier at 1-over-par and freshman Eddy Lai at 6-over-par, who tied for ninth and 18th, respectively.
UCLA’s individuals also found success Tuesday under sunnier skies in Santa Clarita.
Delisi shot a 5-under-par in round three to win the TMU Spring Invite with a combined 7-under-par. Ireland’s 6-under in the final round moved him up to the second spot, just two strokes behind Delisi. They were two of four golfers who finished under par for the tournament, which featured more than 60 competitors.
“That’s exactly why we’ve got guys playing,” Freeman said. “For them to get experience, for them to understand what it’s like to be in contention … I couldn’t be happier for (Delisi) and (Ireland) to both play well.”
Freeman said he was excited that the whole team found success Tuesday. The Bruins’ victory in Westlake Village was the first team win for UCLA since 2015.
“I’m so fired up for these guys,” Freeman said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had a win … and these guys have worked really hard.”
UCLA will return to action in Las Vegas on March 5 for the Southern Highlands Collegiate.