The Bruins will start their second season.
UCLA men’s golf will compete in the Pac-12 championships in Eugene, Oregon, from Monday through Wednesday. The Bruins are seeking their first Pac-12 title since 2006.
Last year, UCLA placed sixth out of 12 teams. The team was in eleventh place after the opening round, but shot the lowest score of the final round to finish at 10-under 1,410.
That year, then-junior Cole Madey paced UCLA, shooting 8-under to tie for 10th. Then-freshman Devon Bling tied for 19th at 2-under. Bling will rejoin the lineup after competing in the Masters Golf Tournament last week, at which he finished 55th – third-best among amateur golfers.
Then-junior Patrick Murphy tied for 41st in last year’s conference tournament at 3-over. Now a senior, Murphy said the Bruins need to have a strong opening round this year in order to contend for the Pac-12 championship.
“I honestly just think that we need to get off to a good start,” Murphy said. “The first day is two rounds, and if we have a good first day, I really like our chances.”
Madey – an Oregon native who played at the Eugene Country Club throughout his childhood – said his course familiarity will help him throughout the week.
“(The course) is right next to my home, so I’ll feel pretty comfortable,” Madey said. “I’ve played (there) many times growing up. It’s pretty narrow, so it’s going to be really important to drive the ball straight. The par threes are also pretty long, so hitting long irons well is going to be key.”
The Bruins enter the postseason coming off three straight top-three finishes, including victories at the SeattleU Redhawk Invitational and the Wyoming Cowboy Classic.
“We’ve got great momentum coming into (this tournament),” said coach Derek Freeman. “I think we’re playing our best golf, and we are just scratching the surface about what this team can do.”
Despite the recent high placements, UCLA still has not attained a top-25 ranking. Freeman said his team is motivated by self-improvement rather than national rankings.
“I think they always want to prove that they’re better than what their ranking is, or what they shot in the last round, or how they did in the last tournament,” Freeman said. “Even though we won two events and had two individual winners, our guys are looking forward to competing and showing that they are one of the best teams in the country.”
The Bruins will begin play Monday at the Eugene Country Club.