Thursday, May 28

Men’s golf has strongest tournament of season, still looks to improve

Freshman Sean Maruyama was UCLA men's golf's highest finisher at the Southwest Invitational this week, posting a 3-under 213 that was enough to tie him for fourth place. (Courtesy of Don Liebig)

The Bruins had their best team finish of the season.

UCLA men’s golf placed third with a 1-over 865 at the Southwestern Invitational in Westlake Village, California. Freshman Sean Maruyama finished tied for fourth with a 3-under 213 to place seventh overall, while senior Cole Madey tied for 15th and finished as the only Bruin under par Tuesday with 1-under 71.

“Four out of five of us played (at this course) last year so we were able to draw a lot of experience from that,” Madey said. “Pit positions were pretty difficult, the weather was really nice – except it got pretty windy occasionally. I putted really nicely this week, but I need to work on ball-striking and hitting a lot cleaner.”

USC stayed at the top of the leaderboard after each round and finished with a 4-under 860. Its No. 1 player, Justin Suh, finished with a 12-under 204.

“At the end, we let a few (things) slip, it kind of flip-flopped, we lost a couple and gained a couple in the last five holes,” Madey said. “But other than that it was really close and they finished a little stronger than we did.”

Maruyama tied for fourth with 12 birdies and nine bogeys. Coach Derek Freeman said Maruyama’s performance kept the Bruins in the mix.

“I was really excited to see him play well,” Freeman said. “He had a great second round, shot 7-under par yesterday in tough conditions and as a team he kept us in the fight.”

Sophomore Devon Bling finished tied for 10th with an even par 216 and a 1-over 73 in the third round.

“Bling is one of the most talented players that we’ve had at UCLA, but with that he’s still young and has mistakes that have been costly to him and the team,” Freeman said. “We’re trying to get him to understand that he doesn’t have to be as aggressive as he thinks he does, when he goes through his routine the right way he performs better.”

Freeman said sophomore Eddy Lai and Madey had some mistakes as well as solid moments but still have things to clean up. Both players tied for 15th with 2-over 218.

“At times, they did some really great things, they performed well – not great, but well,” Freeman said. “It’s just a few things that we have to clean up and if we can do that then we’ll really start to play well. There’s times where we’re not managing the game correctly. We’ve got the talent and the firepower to be really good, but we just keeping making mistakes.”

The Bruins play next at the Southern Highlands Collegiate in Las Vegas from March 3 to March 5.

Murakami joined the Bruin as a junior transfer in 2018 and contributed until 2019. She spent time on the men's and women's golf beats.

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