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UCLA men’s golf finishes in 14th place at Southern Highlands Collegiate

Redshirt sophomore Alvaro Mueller-Baumgart Lucena follows through on a swing at the Southwestern Invitational. Mueller-Baumgart Lucena and UCLA men’s golf are in the midst of a three-week long break from competition following the Southern Highlands Collegiate. (Courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

MEN'S GOLF

Southern Highlands Collegiate

14th place (+6, 870)

By Caleb Freeman Sacker

March 10, 2022 1:36 p.m.

The Bruins played their last tournament before a three-week break.

UCLA men’s golf scored a 6-over 870 to place 14th out of 15 teams at the Southern Highlands Collegiate on March 1 in Las Vegas. The three-day tournament returned for the first time after a one-year hiatus, and the Bruins finished tied for fifth place in the 2019-2020 season’s competition. With its next tournament in two weeks, the blue and gold are in the midst of its second multi-week break of the winter season.

Playing at the Southern Highlands Golf Club for the fourth time, graduate student Eddy Lai concluded the tournament as the Bruins’ top scorer with a 6-under 210, good for a tie for 16th out of 84 players.

Lai said his previous collegiate experience at the course prepared him for this year’s iteration of the tournament.

“I’ve played pretty bad in the years before at this tournament,” Lai said. “(I) knew from the mistakes from the past what I would have to do. (I) tried to play smart. … Before, I would get off to slow starts on a few holes and start pressing.”

Redshirt sophomore Alvaro Mueller-Baumgart Lucena, who shot a 2-under par on the first day, finished the contest with a 1-over 217. Despite facing seven top 25 programs, Mueller-Baumgart Lucena said he knew his game still stacked up with the other athletes.

“(Their) ball striking wasn’t much better,” Mueller-Baumgart Lucena said. “It is just the ability to eliminate mistakes.”

The redshirt sophomore said one of his biggest goals moving forward is to work on decision making and play management in order to simplify the game.

As the Bruins have another three-week break between tournaments, Mueller-Baumgart Lucena said he recognizes the importance of using the time off for rest.

“(I’m) trying to prepare mentally, … (and) my goal is to keep learning,” Mueller-Baumgart Lucena said. “These last two events weren’t good for us, and we need to regroup. Going forward, (we will be) focusing on technique and resting to be in the best shape for the next tournament.”

Prior to the Southern Highlands Collegiate, UCLA finished in 21st place out of 24 teams at The Prestige from Feb. 21 to 23.

Coach Derek Freeman said he believes the time off from competition will be beneficial for his players in the concluding weeks of the campaign.

“We have battled injuries – and it’s really put a toll on us, and it’s really hurt our ability to play at our highest level,” Freeman said. “These weeks are going to be important to see if we can recover and make a last push in the end of the season.”

Seeing injuries to several upperclassmen, the Bruins have rolled out freshman-heavy lineups in their last two tournaments.

Freeman said the team has much room to grow as his players progress through their collegiate careers.

“They have to be ready to go,” Freeman said. They have struggled, and it has hurt us quite a bit. The more experience they get, the better they become. The main thing I try to tell them (is): don’t try to do too much. Do your part (and) play the best golf you can. It’s just about making good decisions.”

The Bruins will next play at The Goodwin hosted by Stanford on March 24.

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Caleb Freeman Sacker | Sports contributor
Freeman Sacker is currently a Sports contributor on the men's golf and track & field beats.
Freeman Sacker is currently a Sports contributor on the men's golf and track & field beats.
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