This post was updated Sept. 23 at 4:41 p.m.
The next time the Bruins tee off, four of five starters will be freshmen.
No. 12 UCLA women’s golf headed to the Red Sky Ranch & Golf Club, Fazio Course in Colorado to compete in the Golfweek Conference Challenge from Monday to Wednesday. After a 10th place finish at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate presented by 3M on Sept. 18, the Bruins dropped seven spots in the rankings.
Coach Carrie Forsyth said the wind and storms in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, made for a good learning opportunity before the Bruins head to Colorado and its high elevation, which makes shots go longer.
“If nothing else, it was a great event because I think the weather conditions really exposed some of our weaknesses and things we can work on to help all of our players elevate their games,” Forsyth said. “The challenge (in Colorado) is the elevation. The ball travels so much further.”
Last year, senior Mariel Galdiano recorded the first win of her collegiate career at the Golfweek Conference Challenge with a 13-under 203, and UCLA won as a team by 33 shots.
Galdiano will be the only nonfreshman starter for the Bruins this week when UCLA enters a field with 18 teams from 18 conferences. Among those teams, the Bruins are the only ranked squad.
Freshmen Emma Spitz and Ty Akabane will return to the lineup for their second tournament with UCLA, and freshmen Emilie Paltrinieri and Annabel Wilson are set to make their collegiate debuts.
“We all have played so much competition outside (of UCLA) and I think we can take all those experiences to help us focus on these upcoming tournaments,” Akabane said.
Spitz was the top scorer for the Bruins at the ANNIKA Intercollegiate, tying for 32nd overall with a 6-over 222. She said she was happy with her long game – especially her driving – but indicated her short game needed improvement.
Senior Clare Legaspi placed second best for the Bruins and tied for 36th overall, but will not be competing this week.
Spitz said even with most of the upperclassmen out of the lineup this week, she and the other freshmen have been learning from their elders in practice.
“I think it’s great for all of us to get to learn so much from each other,” Spitz said. “It’s really helping us to get better in every part of our game.”
Tee off was at 9 a.m. on Monday and competition will wrap up Wednesday..