Three months off didn’t slow down UCLA women’s golf.
The No. 1 Bruins began their spring season in Palos Verdes Estates with a fourth straight victory since October, holding off No. 3 Alabama and 16 other teams to win the Northrop Grumman Regional Challenge on Tuesday afternoon. Junior Lilia Vu also finished atop the individual leaderboard for a second straight tournament.
UCLA exited the first round seven shots off the lead, but posted a tournament-best even-par on day two that placed them in a tie with Alabama for the top spot. Though the Bruins shot 7-over in the final round, UCLA’s combined 15-over was enough to outlast the Crimson Tide by four strokes.
“(The Bruins) made mistakes and they could have completely fallen apart, and they just really stayed with it,” said coach Carrie Forsyth. “Today (was) obviously not as clean, but it was a tougher condition today, and ultimately, we still got the job done.”
Forsyth said that the greens were fast Tuesday, and junior Beth Wu added that weather was also a factor.
“Palos Verdes Golf Club is one of the tougher courses … because it’s so cold and windy,” Wu said. “You never get a flat lie out here.”
But Vu recorded a round-best 3-under-par on the final 18 holes, which propelled her into a three-way tie for first place. Vu had a 4-over in the first round and improved her score each day of the tournament.
She said one challenge was overcoming rustiness after the break between fall and spring seasons.
“I was a little worried, and I had a little bit of anxiety coming into this tournament,” Vu said. “I didn’t feel like my game was good enough.”
After shooting four bogeys in the first round, Vu had none in round three.
“I knew where it was OK to miss it, and I didn’t do anything too aggressive,” Vu said. “I didn’t play aggressively or take greedy shots.”
Wu also finished in the top five with a final tally of 2-over-par. She was followed by freshman Patty Tavatanakit, who tied for 11th with 6-over-par. Sophomore Mariel Galdiano finished in a tie for 30th at 10-over-par, but her even-par final round was the fourth best of the day.
Despite the win, Forsyth said she sees room for her team to improve.
“I think we need to do some more scoring work,” Forsyth said. “Obviously we had some really good scores this week, but when we were qualifying (and) getting ready for this tournament, the scoring wasn’t very good.”
UCLA will have more than a week to practice before it hosts the Bruin Wave Invitational in San Luis Obispo, California, on Feb. 26.
Wu said she and her teammates are excited for the spring season to continue.
“We’re just looking forward to playing more golf and more tournaments to get us prepared for postseason,” Wu said.