The final round was the Bruins’ downfall.
UCLA men’s golf placed fourth with a 14-over 866 at The Prestige presented by Charles Schwab, finishing 28 strokes behind No. 16 Louisiana State. Coach Derek Freeman said the combination of wind conditions and a slow start contributed to an 11-over final round.
“We got off to a poor start and we could never quite recover,” Freeman said. “The wind really picked up today, and the guys did not hit very well. The golf course is really tight and if you miss it by just a little bit, it puts you in a bad position where you have to play defensive.“
The Bruins were in third place after shooting a combined two-over in round one. Senior Cole Madey paced the team, shooting one-under to finish tied for 11th on Monday.
In the second round, sophomore Eddy Lai was the low Bruin scorer at one-under, eight strokes better than his first-round output. UCLA shot one-over, but dropped to fourth place, trailing No. 14 Pepperdine by one stroke for the third spot heading in to the final round.
“Overall, I think we did a very good job of putting ourselves in position to have a chance to play very well,” Freeman said. “I feel like the team is moving in a better direction.”
While Pepperdine shot three-over to secure a top-three finish, UCLA’s combined 11-over was tied for the fifth-worst team score of the final round. At the Arizona Intercollegiate – the Bruins’ first tournament of the spring – they also shot their worst combined score of the week in the final round.
“I’m not concerned, but I’m aware of what’s happening in the final rounds,” Freeman said. “We have to be able to play a full 54 holes and be ready to play, no matter what the conditions or course are like.”
Following consecutive rounds scoring even par, sophomore Devon Bling shot three-over to place 16th. Bling was UCLA’s top golfer after finishing last on the team at the Arizona Intercollegiate.
Junior Hidetoshi Yoshihara finished one stroke behind Bling, shooting a four-over. Yoshihara shot two-over on the first and final rounds to tie for 17th, his second straight top-20 finish.
“This week, my short game was good but I wasn’t hitting my irons too well,” Yoshihara said. “I just stayed steady on the front nine today and made some clutch par puts … but a couple of shots that I hit today towards the end of the round cost me.”
After shooting seven-over in round two, Madey shot two-over Wednesday to place tied for 33rd. Freshman Sean Maruyama and Lai finished tied for 30th and 54th, respectively.
UCLA will continue its season Feb. 25 at the Southwestern Invitational in Westlake Village, California.