Different tournament, same result.
UCLA men’s golf earned its third straight seventh-place finish of the fall season at the Golf Club of Georgia Collegiate Invitational on Friday through Sunday.
“We’re never happy with finishing in the middle of the pack,” said coach Derek Freeman. “We got off to a poor start on the first day, and we had to battle the entire tournament to get back to respectable contention.”
The Bruins shot 5-over as a team in the first round, putting them at 11th place out of 14 teams.
“I think our guys were a little nervous in the first round,” Freeman said. “We started on the (tougher) back nine, so our scores got up there pretty quick.”
UCLA bounced back in the second round, collectively shooting 4-under. However, the team only moved up one spot to tenth place on the leaderboard.
Despite shooting 2-over in the final round, the Bruins managed to pass several teams and finished tied for seventh with Virginia.
Senior Cole Madey led UCLA with a final score of even par, finishing tied for 21st place.
After shooting a 4-over 76 in the first round, Madey improved his score by nine strokes in round two. The senior shot a 5-under 67 after he said he adjusted his swing.
“(Freeman) saw something (wrong) in my swing and pointed it out to me after the first round,” Madey said. “I hit the ball a lot better in the second round.”
Madey birdied his last hole of the final round to become the lone Bruin to make par on the tournament.
Sophomore Devon Bling steadily improved his score each round as well. After posting a 3-over 75 in the first round, Bling scored even par and 2-under in his final two rounds, respectively, to finish with a 1-over 217 and a tie for 29th place.
The sophomore attributed his improved play to hitting a combined 33 out of 36 greens in regulation in the latter two rounds.
“I was striking the ball incredibly well,” Bling said. “Where I didn’t (succeed) was on the putting green … (but) I slowly learned the speeds of the greens and didn’t three-putt as much.”
Junior Hidetoshi Yoshihara and freshman Sean Maruyama both tied for 38th place, finishing 3-over par on the tournament.
After placing as the top UCLA finisher in the first two fall tournaments, senior Jack Ireland finished 9-over this weekend, the highest stroke count on the team.
“Georgia is a ball-striker’s course, and (Ireland) just didn’t hit it well enough to score the way he wanted to,” Freeman said. “The great thing about him is that he’s always fighting, and he loves a challenge.”
Madey said that despite the familiar result, the Bruins’ ability to fight back was a positive takeaway from the invitational.
“We finished really well on our last few holes, and that is something that we can build on heading into the next (tournament),” Madey said.
UCLA will play its final fall tournament Nov. 2-4 when the Bruins will head to Hawaii to compete in the Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational.