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UCLA women’s golf aims to improve upon fall season at Match in the Desert

Graduate student Phoebe Yue lines up a shot during practice. (Courtesy of Alicia Um Holmes)

WOMEN’S GOLF

Match in the Desert

Monday

Gold Canyon, Arizona

By Austin Tran

Jan. 22, 2023 10:02 a.m.

The Bruins are coming back after the break looking for a fresh start.

No. 23 UCLA women’s golf is headed to Gold Canyon, Arizona, to compete at the Match in the Desert, looking to improve from its fourth-place finish at the tournament in 2022. Play will commence Monday at the Superstition Mountain Golf Club, a course that features fast, sloped greens and holes where long-irons are needed for approach shots, according to redshirt sophomore Alessia Nobilio.

The lineup will feature three players who competed in last year’s event – sophomores Caroline Canales and Zoe Antoinette Campos along with Nobilio – and the trio finished tied for 10th, 17th and 23rd, respectively.

Two new faces round out the lineup in graduate student Phoebe Yue and senior Yuki Yoshihara. While this is Yoshihara’s first appearance at the tournament, Yue tied for 12th at the 2021 Match in the Desert.

This will be the first tournament in three months for the blue and gold after an inconsistent fall season, as described by coach Carrie Forsyth.

“We certainly hadn’t been very consistent through the lineup,” Forsyth said. “Unfortunately, our fifth player’s scores have been high. The depth that I see we have hasn’t manifested itself in a competitive environment. We have too many ups and downs.”

At the Blessings Collegiate Invitational, the scoring differential between the top and bottom finishers for the Bruins was 22, while the gap was 33 strokes at the Nanea Pac-12 Preview.

The Bruins spent their offseason fine-tuning their games to prepare for the upcoming spring stretch, with some skipping their holiday break to focus on golf, according to Forsyth. Nobilio decided to return to her home country, Italy, to participate in an optional training camp for the Italian national team.

“I worked with the Italian national team, so we have these two training camps,” Nobilio said. “They plan these team retreats in which we practice 8 hours a day and work out as well. We have coaches that specialize in each part of the game.”

To reflect on the fall season and establish goals going forward, Forsyth held a team meeting on the Friday before the event. One of the key discussions encompassed the fact that the team needs to maintain more emotional stability and confidence going into each tournament.

“We lost a little bit of that fight,” Yue said. “Instead of going into every tournament feeling very confident and thinking we are going to win, it’s been more like we are just thinking about it defensively. As a team, we have the ability to do well, we just need to start believing in ourselves.”

Although the team reflected on its fall inconsistencies as areas to improve, it also celebrated some personal victories as well.

Forsyth noted the improvements of Campos and Canales, who have become the team’s lowest-scoring players. After a rocky freshman year, Campos carded two top-10 finishes in the fall and is currently ranked 11th in the nation. Canales recorded two top-5 finishes in her three stroke play events.

“We had some really good moments and really inspirational things we saw from players individually,” Forsyth said. “For us, it’s going to (take) everybody raising their level, it’s not just going to be one person who is able to carry the team.”

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Austin Tran | Sports reporter
Tran is currently a Sports reporter on the men's and women's golf beats.
Tran is currently a Sports reporter on the men's and women's golf beats.
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