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Omar Morales claims third straight top-five finish as men’s golf wraps fall season

Junior Omar Morales watches the ball after swinging his golf club. Morales landed in second place in the final fall season tournament. (Courtesy of Owen Main/Cal Poly Athletics)

Men's Golf

Cal Poly Invitational

Second place (-16, 848)

By Austin Tran

Nov. 2, 2023 5:20 p.m.

This post was updated Nov. 2 at 9:42 p.m.

Omar Morales recorded his third consecutive top-five finish, more than he had in his entire previous two years as a Bruin.

The junior capped off his fall at the Cal Poly Invitational with a score of 9-under 207, one stroke off California’s Kuangyu Chen – the tournament’s champion. This event wraps up Morales’ fall slate in which he earned his second collegiate level win.

“The work that I’ve put in during the summer has helped me be more composed on the golf course,” Morales said. “On the technical side, I did some adjustments to my swing after our first event this fall season. … It was quite incredible that the results have paid off almost immediately.”

Behind Morales’ performance, UCLA men’s golf finished tied for second place with a total score of 16-under 848. Coach Armen Kirakossian said the second-place finish is a sign of progress going forward.

“It was a great fall. … We felt like we had guys playing well, but we hadn’t put it together as a team yet,” Kirakossian said. “We may have been in the lead with a few holes to play. It stung a bit because we felt like we had an opportunity to win and we didn’t, but that’s also good [because] it leaves the guys hungry for more.”

While the tournament was nearly the third consecutive event where a Bruin medaled, it was the first time this season that UCLA had more than one player mark a top-three finish. Freshman Luke Powell – who tied for third at 8-under 208 alongside Jacksonville’s Alexandre Vandermoten – was one of two Bruins, alongside Morales, who did not record a double bogey or worse in his 54 holes.

In just his first season of collegiate golf, Powell leads the team in aggregate scoring. With this recent finish, Powell has carded six rounds in the 60s.

“The coaches have had a lot of impact on me coming in,” Powell said. “They’ve been able to teach me when to go for things and … when to lay back and how important par is. Having my team there … through the ups and downs is super important. It’s really cool to have the competition aspect but also have supporters from it as well.”

In addition to finishing third overall, Powell was the field’s scoring leader on par 4s. He added that he felt good in his wedge game, which directly contributed to being able to set up easy putts.

Trailing Morales and Powell were graduate student Mason Greene, junior Pablo Ereño and freshman Luciano Conlan. Greene carded a total of 214, good for 25th, while Ereño finished at 3-over 219 at 46th. Conlan rounded out the group with an 8-over 224, landing at a tie for 67th. Kirakossian said the Bruins will continue to prepare before returning to the courses in January.

“We can always get better with our putting, so we’re going to work on that,” Kirakossian said. “Also, in college golf, you have a lot of shots between 120-160 yards, so we will focus a lot on pitching-wedge and 9-iron work this offseason as well.”

With its fall season now complete, UCLA will return to action in two months at The Copper Cup in Maricopa, Arizona.

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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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