UCLA men’s golf captures 13th consecutive NCAA championship berth
By Julie Song
May 18, 2015 1:41 a.m.
On Saturday, No. 3 seed UCLA placed fourth in the Noblesville regional, making its 13th straight berth the longest active streak of championship appearances in Division I NCAA men’s golf.
Junior Jonathan Garrick played a steady game with scores of 69, 68, 73 respectively, in three rounds and placed third individually with a total score of 6-under par behind golfers from Illinois and Colorado.
“I just made a lot more birdies the first two rounds, but I’m still happy with all three,” Garrick said.
Junior Lorens Chan, who was recovering from a wrist injury, played a key role in the final round for the team. He not only succeeded in jumping up 25 spots up on the scoreboard for himself, but also played a major role in yielding a 1-under par – the team’s best round of the tournament.
“The first two rounds I struggled with keeping my tee shots in play, setting up opportunities for birdies,” Chan said. “And today I hit better and gave myself opportunities for birdies, so it was a good momentum.”
Chan missed two-and-a-half-weeks’ worth of practice due to his earlier wrist injury, leading up to the regional. Despite feeling a little rusty, Chan said he took the first two rounds to figure stuff out as well as used coach Derek Freeman’s guidance along the way to persevere.
Although the team won its ticket to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship as well as set a new record, it struggled in the first two rounds, unable to dig deep into the leaderboard. However, with a disappointing spring season, Freeman said he knows the effort that the players had put in for this event.
“The whole goal with the regionals is to make it through, so I was very proud of the guys for really just playing well enough to get through that,” Freeman said. “The guys did a really nice job of playing a tough golf course and they played it well.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming nationals in Florida, held from May 29 to June 3, the team will continue its usual practice routines but focusing on some weaknesses that this weekend’s regional revealed, Freeman said.
“We’ll definitely spend some time working on a few areas of weakness that still show up,” Freeman said. “I think we need to spend a little bit more time working on our chipping and pitching.”
Aside from the technical improvements, there is a consistent pattern of weakness that Chan said he noticed throughout the team’s spring season.
“I think we really had a good fall (season) and in the spring we struggled a lot,” Chan said. “I think we struggle with our first round scoring. I think we get into a sluggish start and put ourselves out of the contention on the first day and we kinda battle it back in the next two rounds.”
Overall, with a better focused team effort in the third round, the team secured its place in the upcoming NCAA nationals and the team said it hopes to build on this experience for the NCAA championship.
“The teamwork was good today, with our lowest round as a team, which is important because it was our final day,” Garrick said. “To finish strong was a big boost.”