When UCLA men’s golf started its final day of the Pac-12 championship, the Bruins knew they weren’t going to win.
But they had a different goal.
“I told the team that our goal was to go out and have the lowest score of the day and win today’s tournament,” said coach Derek Freeman. “And we did that.”
The Bruins finished sixth out of 12 teams. UCLA shot 10 under par, 21 strokes back of first place USC.
UCLA sat in seventh after three rounds of the tournament but changed course in the fourth round.
The Bruins struggled at first, shooting 6 over par in the first round. Freeman said the first few holes were the dagger.
“In the first nine to 12 holes, we put ourselves in such a hole that it was just virtually impossible for us to catch up,” Freeman said. “You can’t do that in conference play. The teams are too good and there are too many people that can play well.”
However, sophomore Hidetoshi Yoshihara wasn’t fazed by the pressure of the Pac-12 Tournament.
“We’ve played in bigger events before,” Yoshihara said. “It was just the fact that we had to play 72 holes instead of 54; it was a marathon, not a sprint.”
Nevertheless, Freeman said the team showed its ability to fight back in the final round. Despite their less-than-ideal finish, UCLA found a bright spot Wednesday, finishing with the best score of the day at 10-under par.
“We played better than anybody else on that entire field today,” Freeman said. “We can use that as momentum as we get into regionals.”
Yoshihara led the fourth-round charge for the Bruins at 4-under par.
“I hit the ball amazing this week,” Yoshihara said. “I did miss a couple of shots, but I putted a lot better over the past couple of rounds.”
Other Bruins also performed well in the final round, including junior Cole Madey and freshman Devon Bling. In the same round, Madey posted a score of 1-under par and Bling shot 3 under par.
“Our team is in a really good spot,” Yoshihara said. “I think our team has the talent and ability to compete with the best in the country, but we just need good timing.”
The only remaining tournament on the Bruins’ schedule is the NCAA Tournament, beginning May 13. In order to compete, the Bruins must receive an at-large bid.
“We’ll get an at-large bid,” Freeman said. “If we clean up just a few little things, we’re a really good team and we proved it today.”