The Bruins only went up, but they never reached the top.
No. 12 UCLA women’s golf finished in third place at the Golfweek Conference Challenge in Wolcott, Colorado, posting a 5-under 859. The Bruins – the only ranked team in the field – finished 10th place in round one, climbed to fifth after round two and ended the tournament only behind Ole Miss and Pepperdine.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we played the first round, but to come back after playing poorly and having two, I think, pretty solid rounds – I’m really happy about that, I’m happy we got better,” said coach Carrie Forsyth.
Forsyth said a lot of the players struggled with the slopes of the greens in Colorado, which she said the European players are not familiar with. After the first day, Forsyth said the Bruins practiced putting prior to the second round.
Freshman Emma Spitz was UCLA’s top finisher for the second week in a row. She placed third overall with an 8-under 208 despite having been tied for 32nd after the first round.
After a 1-over 73 on Monday, Spitz notched seven birdies on day two to move into the top 10 with a 5-under 67. The freshman sealed the deal with a 4-under round on Wednesday.
The next two Bruin scorers were also newcomers to the 2019 roster – and made their collegiate debuts at the tournament. Freshman Annabel Wilson came in tied for 16th and was followed closely by freshman Emilie Paltrinieri, who tied 18th.
Wilson shot a 4-over 76 in the first round before posting back-to-back 70s to bring her overall score to an even par.
Freshman Ty Akabane, who joined Spitz as the only two freshmen in last week’s ANNIKA Intercollegiate, was the fourth-best finisher for UCLA. Akabane finished Wednesday’s round tied for 34th after finishing day one as the Bruins’ top score.
Akabane posted four bogies and two doubles on Tuesday, placing her tied for 51st, and her 1-under 71 on Wednesday was only enough to bring her with a 6-over 222.
Mariel Galdiano – the only senior in the Bruins’ lineup – was the last place finisher for UCLA. Galdiano won the Golfweek Conference Challenge as a junior in 2018 but came in tied for 39th this week.
“Last year when (Galdiano) came into this tournament, she was really swinging well,” Forsyth said. “(This year), she’s been struggling a little bit for a couple of months, but I really think she’s on the right track with her swing. … I do believe she’s a better player than she was last year, but she has to go through this challenge.”
Freshman Yuki Yoshihara competed as an individual and finished tied for 18th along with Paltrinieri.
The Bruins will have a two-week hiatus from competition before traveling to Palo Alto, California, on Oct. 11 for the Stanford Intercollegiate.