UCLA women’s golf achieves 1st-place finish at Match in the Desert
Sophomore Caroline Canales lines up for a putt. (Courtesy of UCLA Athletics)
Match in the Desert
First place (-12, 276)
By Amy Ionescu
Jan. 25, 2023 1:59 p.m.
The Bruins may have traveled to the Copper State, but they brought home the gold instead.
No. 23 UCLA women’s golf took to Gold Canyon, Arizona, and upset No. 13 Arizona and No. 17 Arizona State en route to a first-place finish at the Match in the Desert on Monday. In addition to the Bruins’ team win, sophomore Caroline Canales picked up the first individual win of her career.
Canales said playing in the same group as the other gold medalist, Arizona State’s Ashley Menne, made the experience more exciting, especially as the two came into the last hole tied.
“It really was fun at the end when it came wire to wire down to the finish,” Canales said. “It was definitely a pressure pass situation. We both knew that there was the potential for one of us to win the tournament or to become co-medalists.”
With eight total birdies – five in the first seven holes – Canales led the Bruins with a 7-under 65. Using the midseason hiatus to practice her putting, Canales said she saw the improvement from the last couple of months in her play on Monday.
Canales added that the poor weather in Los Angeles in January helped her prepare for the tougher conditions in Arizona.
“We played multiple rounds in the rain, in particular, and just the cold weather (in LA),” Canales said. “It was very cold out in Phoenix, … so just the preparation and the dedication the past couple weeks helped us tackle the cold weather yesterday (Monday) and not let it bother us.”
Coach Carrie Forsyth said a mix of mentality and skill helped propel the blue and gold to its win.
“We as a team had a really good strategy in terms of the mindset going into the rounds,” Forsyth said. “The premium was on keeping it in the fairway and hitting quality tee shots, and the girls managed that very well.”
Alongside Canales, sophomore Zoe Antoinette Campos and redshirt sophomore Alessia Nobilio notched top-10 finishes, with Campos coming in tied for sixth with a 4-under 68 and Nobilio tied for eighth with a 5-under 69. To round out the Bruin squad, senior Yuki Yoshihara and graduate student Phoebe Yue tied for 26th with a 2-over 74.
Nobilio said she is accustomed to the cold since she grew up in Italy, spending her break on several retreats with the Italian national team.
Nobilio added that she was pleased with her performance at the Match in the Desert.
“Overall, my game was very solid yesterday (Monday), and I saw a lot of improvement compared to the fall,” Nobilio said. “I’ve been working a lot over the break, and I was very happy about my round. I hit a lot of greens, which I think helped a lot.”
Forsyth said she was happy with the team’s performance at the tournament as the Bruins look to the rest of the season ahead.
“They struck the ball really well,” Forsyth said. “We had a lot of chances as a team at birdies; short games looked really solid. I was pleased with pretty much everything I saw out there.”