The top team in the nation will debut a new lineup this week.
Coming off a victory at the Golfweek Conference Challenge, No. 1 UCLA women’s golf will compete shorthanded at the Stanford Intercollegiate this weekend.
The Bruins’ top two players – senior Lilia Vu and sophomore Patty Tavatanakit – will not participate, as they are currently competing in the LPGA Qualifying Series finals. The duo will not be with the team for the remainder of the fall schedule.
Sophomore Vera Markevich and freshman Phoebe Yue will make their first career appearances in the five-person lineup this weekend.
“We’ve got some players that are not very seasoned in terms of competing at this level,” said coach Carrie Forsyth. “My goal is for (Markevich and Yue) to get comfortable and have a good experience that can really motivate them to continue to improve.”
The newcomers will make their collegiate debuts at a course where most teams fail to break par. Last year, UCLA was the only team to finish the Stanford Intercollegiate with a cumulative score under par, beating host Stanford by three strokes.
“I remember the greens (at Stanford) being pretty difficult,” said senior Beth Wu. “I think we all need to focus on hitting the right approach shots.”
Additionally, Forsyth emphasized the importance of shot placement at the Stanford Golf Course.
“Accuracy off the tee is important at Stanford,” Forsyth said. “Some shots have to be placed on the right side of the fairway, while others must be on the left side.”
The Bruins are one of 15 teams playing in the Stanford Intercollegiate, which will take place from Friday to Sunday.
UCLA men’s golf to play in Georgia
UCLA men’s golf will travel to Alpharetta, Georgia, to participate in the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational this weekend.
“It’s a narrow golf course with a lot of trees, so we have to do a good job placing our (drives) on the right parts of the fairway,” said coach Derek Freeman. “The par-3 courses are also very difficult.”
Sophomore Devon Bling said the Bruins have focused on sharpening their drives in practice to prepare for the tournament.
“If you are doing well off the tee, (the course) is very scorable,” Bling said. “I’ve been working on shot-shaping with my driver, and I’ve tightened fairways in my mind just so I could practice for Georgia.”
Of the five athletes representing UCLA this weekend, freshman Sean Maruyama is the lone first-year golfer to crack the rotation.
After making the lineup for the Golfweek Conference Challenge, Maruyama lost his spot and was forced to compete as an individual at the Windon Memorial Classic. Following a top-20 finish, the freshman reclaimed a starting role.
“(Maruyama’s) got a lot of talent, and he’s starting to understand the concepts of tougher golf courses and course management at (the collegiate) level,” Freeman said.
The rest of the team will stay home and practice individualized drills in hopes of representing the Bruins in the next tournament.
“It’s a challenge for the guys to get into the lineup,” Freeman said. “The highly competitive environment is healthy, and that’s what we want.”
UCLA will enter the tournament coming off consecutive seventh-place finishes at the Golfweek Conference Challenge and the Windon Memorial Classic earlier this fall.