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Fresh faces comprise UCLA men’s golf roster ahead of second tournament

Junior Pablo Ereño watches the golf ball after chipping it. Ereño ranked second on UCLA men’s golf in scoring last season. (Courtesy of Pac-12)

Men's Golf

Hamptons Intercollegiate

Monday to Tuesday

East Hampton, New York

By Alexis Hinkle

Oct. 1, 2023 5:35 p.m.

This post was updated Oct. 1 at 10:02 p.m.

Luke Powell finished third at the Bruins’ first tournament of the season.

The freshman said the groundwork for success begins at practice in order to improve on his early high finish.

“A lot of preparation goes into this by myself, my coaches and also my team,” Powell said. “My approach on it was just to stay focused on the moment and what hole was in front of me.”

With its first tournament – the Husky Invitational – in the rearview, UCLA men’s golf is headed to East Hampton, New York, to compete at the Hamptons Intercollegiate. The Bruins are coming off of a sixth-place, 3-under, 861 finish, where Powell made the starting lineup in his collegiate debut.

His third-place finish at the tournament was the highest of any nonhost competitor at the Gold Mountain Golf Club. Powell is the first Bruin to debut with a top-20 finish since then-freshman Kyle An placed 19th in last year’s Folds of Honor Collegiate.

Two out of the five players in the starting lineup were UCLA newcomers. Powell’s classmate, freshman Alex Papayoanou, placed 32nd alongside An with a 1-over, 217 finish in his debut.

Coach Armen Kirakossian – who sits in his second year at the helm of the program – said the team’s depth is one of the most exciting parts of this upcoming season.

“It’s really made it so much more competitive at home,” Kirakossian said. “Just to even earn a spot in the lineup and be one of those starting five to get to travel and compete for the team – that’s what you really want.”

The decision to name who is in the starting lineup is based on the qualifying practice rounds before each tournament, Kirakossian said. He added that the qualifying rounds for the upcoming tournament were more intense than those of last season.

This time around in New York, another newcomer will have his debut.

Freshman Luciano Conlan didn’t make the starting lineup for the first tournament. But after competing in the individual rounds, he has found his way into the lineup at the Hamptons Intercollegiate.

The starting five will consist of Conlan, Powell, An and two UCLA veterans – graduate student Mason Greene and junior Pablo Ereño. Ereño, who was second in scoring average in 2022, said helping the new Bruins transition has been exciting in his new role as a leader.

“They’re really good athletes, really good students and really good people,” Ereño said. “That definitely makes it easier. It’s been great so far.”

The Bruins will tee off Monday at the Maidstone Golf Club, but for UCLA’s emerging freshman, it’s just the start. Powell said his third-place finish to open the season is only the beginning.

“I want to show everyone what I could do and help lead this team to a national championship this year,” Powell said. “That’s our goal, and we’re all working towards it one step at a time.”

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Alexis Hinkle
Hinkle is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's tennis, men's golf and track and field beats. She was previously a reporter on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats. She is also a second-year sociology student.
Hinkle is a 2023-2024 assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, women's tennis, men's golf and track and field beats. She was previously a reporter on the women's basketball and beach volleyball beats. She is also a second-year sociology student.
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