UCLA men’s golf ended its season without an opportunity to compete for a national championship, but had a year ripe with individual career milestones.
The Bruins were ranked 21st in the nation heading into the season. However, UCLA failed to crack the top three in any of its fall tournaments, placing seventh in its first three events. The team fell out of the top 25 and did not regain a national ranking for the rest of the season.
But the spring marked a turning point for the Bruins.
Freshman Sean Maruyama, who made the lineup for several fall tournaments, finished tied for fourth at the Southwestern Invitational on Feb. 26. Maruyama was the first Bruin to earn an individual top-five finish this season.
Sophomore Devon Bling achieved several individual accolades this year, starting with his first collegiate hole-in-one at the Arizona Intercollegiate, the first tournament of the spring.
Bling competed in the Masters Tournament in April and was one of four amateur golfers to make the cut. The sophomore shot his second ace of 2019 at the seventh hole of the Masters Par 3 Contest.
UCLA played its best golf of the season during April. The team recorded four top-three finishes, including back-to-back team wins, after never finishing higher than fourth in the fall.
The Bruins earned their first victory since February 2018 at the SeattleU Redhawk Invitational in April. Junior Hidetoshi Yoshihara won the second tournament of his collegiate career, and Bling finished two strokes behind to tie for second.
UCLA won the Wyoming Cowboy Classic the following week. Senior Cole Madey tied for first and was the low scorer in a playoff series of three par-four holes, earning his first career outright individual title.
Three Bruins placed in the top 10 at the Pac-12 championship in Eugene, Oregon. Madey finished third – the best conference championship performance by a Bruin since Jonathan Garrick tied for third in 2015. Bling finished in sixth, and sophomore Eddy Lai tied for seventh. UCLA placed second for its best Pac-12 finish since 2013.
The Bruins earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year and competed in the Pullman Regional for a spot at the NCAA championship in Fayetteville, Arkansas. UCLA entered the final round in sixth place but was unable to break into the top five to clinch its second straight national championship berth.
The team will graduate seniors Madey, Patrick Murphy, Jack Ireland and Phil Delisi. Madey and Murphy earned Pac-12 Conference All-Academic Honorable Mention honors this season. Ireland spent the past two seasons at UCLA after transferring from Cal State Fullerton. Delisi won the TMU Spring Invitational as an individual in 2018.
The Bruins will resume the pursuit of their first national title since 2008 and third championship overall next season.