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Men’s golf performs worst in 3 years at Southwestern Invitational to open 2020 play

Junior Devon Bling had the best score for UCLA men’s golf in the Bruins’ season-opener tournament on Monday and Tuesday. He shot a 2-over 218 tying for an 18th place finish in the Southwestern Invitational. (Courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

By Daniel Lieber

Jan. 29, 2020 10:16 am

The Bruins opened their 2020 schedule with their lowest-ever finish at the Southwestern Invitational. An event where they had never placed outside of the top three.

UCLA men’s golf shot a 23-over 887 on Tuesday, finishing in seventh place out of a 12-team pool in Westlake Village, California.

The Bruins have historically had success at the Southwestern Invitational, as they finished in first at the 2018 tournament and third last year. They were unable to replicate those performances over the course of three rounds on Monday and Tuesday, as they failed to place among the top half of the schools present.

Coach Derek Freeman said he was surprised by his team’s performance over the last two days.

“We had some really good work when we came back to school,” Freeman said. “The guys felt good about things, we as coaches felt like we had a great game plan and we just didn’t execute. It’s a really big disappointment to start off our spring season like this.”

UCLA improved its score each round as the event progressed, but it found itself hovering around the middle of the pack throughout the competition after a 10-over 298 first-round performance.

Junior Devon Bling led the Bruins with a 2-over 218 at the conclusion of the competition and tied for 18th overall but said he was dissatisfied with his own performance and the team’s finishing position.

“I think all of us just made a lot of dumb mistakes and on a tough golf course like that, it kind of adds up really quickly,” Bling said.

The junior said a few variables distinguished his playing experience this time around at the Southwestern Invitational compared to last year’s competition.

“The greens were firmer and faster and we had a little bit of a gusty wind yesterday, but it was definitely still scorable,” Bling said. “It just required some pretty strategic course management.”

Sophomore Bryan Wiyang Teoh finished the day with a 7-over 223 tied for 33rd, followed by senior Hidetoshi Yoshihara with a 9-over 225 tied for 41st, and junior Eddy Lai with a 10-over 226 tied for 44th. Freshman Tony Hendricks finished lowest of the UCLA lineup in his starting debut with a 12-over 228.

Despite his disappointment about the performance, Freeman said his players can use this as an experience to learn from.

“The good part is that it’s the very first tournament of spring,” Freeman said. “It’s a good time for our guys to understand that it’s ready to go and it’s time to work. We get to evaluate, learn, get better and fix a few things before we go back out.”

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Daniel Lieber | Sports contributor
Lieber is currently a Sports contributor on the men's and women's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the men's soccer beat.
Lieber is currently a Sports contributor on the men's and women's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the men's soccer beat.
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