No. 21 UCLA men’s golf returned from a three-month hiatus Monday and Tuesday at The Farms Golf Club. The Bruins left The Farms Invitational with a second-place finish Tuesday, closing at 8-over-par.
Coach Derek Freeman said he was pleased with the outcome. However, he still believes there is room to improve. The Bruins weren’t able to climb out of tied second place, falling too far behind in the second round. UCLA couldn’t close in on first-place San Francisco, who won the tournament by just one stroke, finishing 7-over-par.
“We just had to battle back all day long,” Freeman said. “We’re just looking for a chance to win in that last 9 holes and we did that. The guys from San Francisco played the last three holes at 5-under-par – that’s tough to beat.”
This was the Bruins’ first match since Oct. 31, and Freeman said that the team was definitely rusty coming out of the offseason.
“You know we’ve had a great month of preparation and work,” Freeman said. “We just weren’t tournament-ready, and you could tell we didn’t execute properly at times and didn’t hit the right golf shots (and make) the right decisions.”
Despite the loss, Freeman said he was pleased with the resilience of some of his players, especially freshman Eddy Lai, who had a tough second round.
“He’s a really good player and has a lot of success,” Freeman said. “We just have to teach him how to do a better job of managing his mental and physical capabilities on those long days.”
The Bruins had an especially strong third round, shooting the best score of their tournament at 2-under-par. Leading the third round charge was sophomore Hidetoshi Yoshihara, who shot 3-under-par overall, including a score of 70 in the third round, which was the best of that round for the Bruins.
“I think I just played consistently,” Yoshihara said. “I was able to finish a birdie on the last hole which was a good ending, so hopefully I can keep that momentum going for the next tournament.”
The Bruins have a quick turnaround, as they will play in another tournament in Palm Desert, California, starting Friday.
“It’s a good starting point, it lets us know where we are,” Freeman said. “The good thing is we turn right around and get to play this weekend at Palm Desert, and you know we’re gonna have a good tournament there.”