One Bruin taking first place was not enough for a team victory.
No. 25 UCLA men’s golf tied for seventh in the Bandon Dunes Championship on Tuesday in Bandon, Oregon. Junior Devon Bling came in first overall, earning his second collegiate tournament victory.
“It’s pretty difficult to win, especially now (because) there’s a lot of really good competition,” Bling said. “I’m really proud of the way I found my composure,”
In the first round, Bling shot a 1-under 70 to finish the day tied for 10th place. On the second day, he shot a 4-under 67, which moved him into a tie for first.
Despite a triple bogey on the final hole of the tournament, Bling’s birdies on No. 5, 11 and 12 were enough for an even par-71, which clinched his position as the sole individual winner.
“This golf course is so unique and different than anything that we normally play, and (Bling) just built a really nice game plan, which he’s been developing over the last three years,” said coach Derek Freeman. “It’s really starting to take form, and he’s starting to understand how to hit the ball in the proper spots and just take what the golf course gives him.”
The rest of the team had an opposite trajectory, finishing the first day of the tournament tied for second before falling down the ranks. UCLA shot an even par-284 on Sunday, just three strokes worse than first place No. 51 Oregon State. But a 10-over 294 from the Bruins on Monday took them down to seventh place.
UCLA then shot a 4-over 288 – and two players shot even par-71s – in the third round of the tournament, but it wasn’t enough to move the Bruins up the leaderboard.
Bling said his approach, and his advice to the other players on the team, was to play more cautiously when in difficult positions.
“It was a completely different golf course that required a lot of creativity, and if there’s a shot that doesn’t feel very comfortable, then it’s OK to play conservatively,” Bling said.
Freshman Mason Greene had his first chance in the lineup this year and shot a 15-over 228 to tie for 80th. Freeman said it was a difficult for a freshman to come into a tournament in which every score would count.
“It’s a learning process, and as a freshman, being in the lineup can be overwhelming at times when you have tough conditions and a tough golf course,” Freeman said. “It can overtake your emotions, and I think he had that happen to him yesterday. When (Greene) shot 81, it basically took us out of the tournament. It’s not his fault, you know, but it’s, everyone’s got to do their part and he’s got to learn from it.”
Senior Hidetoshi Yoshihara played Sunday and shot a par-71 but was pulled from the course for the next two rounds because of a minor shoulder injury. Freshman Tony Hendricks took his place in the lineup, shooting a 13-over 226 to tie for 72nd.
Sophomore Bryan Wiyang Teoh shot a 2-over 215 to tie for 21st, while junior Eddy Lai shot a 5-over 218 to tie for 40th. Freeman said having one player, like Bling, shoot low scores in a tournament while other players struggle has been a pattern for the team.
“The other guys just didn’t play that well,” Freeman said. “It seems to be something that’s happening to us. We’ll have one guy playing well, we’ll have two guys playing well – but we won’t get everybody playing well together.”