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Quick tournament turnaround won’t slow down women’s golf for Gator Invitational

Members of UCLA women’s golf huddle in a meeting during a tournament. (Courtesy of UCLA Athletics)


Vystars Credit Union Gator Invitational

Saturday to Sunday

Gainesville, FL

By Sabrina Baker

March 3, 2023 5:37 p.m.

After battling the rain and cold at The Beach Invitational, the Bruins are hoping for sunnier conditions down South.

No. 21 UCLA women’s golf will travel to Gainesville, Florida, to compete in the Vystars Credit Union Gator Invitational this weekend. The tournament features three rounds of 18 holes each, with 36 holes on Saturday and 18 on Sunday. The blue and gold will face four other top-25 teams, including Pac-12 foe No. 15 Arizona.

Coach Carrie Forsyth said this type of competition forces the team to play well.

“You’re not going to be able to go out as a team, play poorly and expect that you are going to win a tournament or have a good finish,” Forsyth said. “It doesn’t work like that. To win, or to be in contention, it’s going to take good scoring.”

The Bruins are coming off a win at The Beach Invitational, finishing five strokes ahead of second-place Colorado State. The tournament brought them their third win of the season, with the other two coming from the inaugural Battle for the Bell and the Match in the Desert.

This weekend will be the fourth time the blue and gold has competed against Arizona this season. The Bruins have finished behind the Wildcats in two of their prior matchups but landed ahead of them at the Match in the Desert.

Senior Annabel Wilson said she tries not to focus on the competition heading into tournaments.

“I’m definitely aware that there are good teams,” Wilson said. “You can feel that extra bit of intensity when you get there, but it doesn’t change my strategy or anything.”

To add to the pressure, the turnaround between The Beach Invitational and the upcoming Vystars Credit Union Gator Invitational is one of the quicker turnarounds the Bruins have seen all season, with only three days between the end of the last competition and the beginning of the next.

Sophomore Caroline Canales said an important part of preparing for back-to-back tournaments is to get ahead on schoolwork.

“I did a lot of homework before the tournament, so I didn’t need to worry about it on our 36-hole day,” Canales said. “I’ll obviously get caught up on homework tomorrow between the two events since we have the day off. I’ll get as much homework done as I can, just to take that stress off.”

Both Canales and Wilson finished the previous tournament at 10-over 226 to finish in a four-way tie for fourth place. Both golfers said they felt they learned about their game in The Beach Invitational and hope to translate these lessons into their performance in Florida.

Wilson said she wants to improve her short game heading into the Sunshine State.

“We haven’t played the course for the Gator Invitational,” Wilson said. “But knowing Florida, it’s probably going to be Bermuda grass. That means short game is a highlighted part of the game. This week I learned that I have a shot that I need to focus on and shorten.”

On the other hand, Canales said The Beach Invitational highlighted her confidence in her driving abilities.

“Even if we are playing a really narrow course where the fairways are slim and are really demanding off the tee, or it’s tough conditions, that’s an area that I am always pretty confident in – I can consistently hit fairways,” Canales said. “It makes the courses more simple if you can guarantee you are starting each hole in the fairway.”

Canales and Wilson will have the chance to display those improvements and consistencies when the Bruins tee off Saturday at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.

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Sabrina Baker | Sports contributor
Baker is currently a Sports contributor on the swim & dive beat.
Baker is currently a Sports contributor on the swim & dive beat.
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