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UCLA men’s golf tees up for The Copper Cup to begin 2024 season

Sophomore Kyle An watches the ball after hitting it. (Courtesy of Ross Turteltaub/UCLA Athletics)

Men's Golf

The Copper Cup

Sunday to Monday

Maricopa, Arizona

By Alexis Hinkle

Jan. 14, 2024 2:45 p.m.

The Bruins will embark on a new golfing adventure in the desert.

“We haven’t played a competitive style of alternate shot,” said sophomore Kyle An. “We’ve practiced it before, but we’re basically, honestly, going in kind of blind.”

UCLA men’s golf is gearing up for its first tournament of the new year, in which it will switch up the style of play in a two-day event at The Copper Cup in Maricopa, Arizona. Nine Bruin golfers will go head-to-head with crosstown rival USC, No. 19 Arizona and No. 6 Arizona State in a mix of both alternate shot and singles matches.

The Bruins will first face the Trojans in a series of three alternate shot matches and eight singles matches throughout the first day of the event. The last time UCLA competed against USC was at the Cal Poly Invitational – its final tournament in 2023 – where the Bruins tied for second and the Trojans finished in ninth place.

But this time, the competition will look a little different.

“It’s one of the biggest rivalries in college and I think we want to come out on top,” said junior Omar Morales. “But whether it was USC, or Arizona or any other college, I would still want to beat them.”

The teams will not just compete individually in match play, but 15 total alternate shot matches will be played throughout the weekend. Two players from each team will pair up and switch off every other shot against another pair from the opposing team.

Coach Armen Kirakossian said this style of play is unique, but it exposes the unity of the team.

“Sometimes if you’re in a good rhythm, we can shoot a really good score together,” Kirakossian said. “And if you’re out of rhythm, you could really have a bad day. So it really exposes people, and it exposes the chemistry most of all.”

On the second day of the event, the Bruins will either face the Wildcats or the Sun Devils, while the results of day one will determine who UCLA competes against on the final day.

The nine members of the team are looking to continue a strong start in the fall season, where the Bruins placed in the top five twice across four tournaments. The last instance of the Bruins achieving consistent top-five performances ahead of the spring season dates back to 2019.

Over the 2 1/2 month hiatus, Kirakossian said the Bruins worked on habits on the putting green, as well as positive lifestyle patterns to implement daily. Morales added that he worked on his shooting abilities alongside physical conditioning and meetings with coaches.

“I had a lot to improve on and a lot to work on,” Morales said. “Especially my shots coming into the green and distance control.”

After much preparation for the 2024 season, the Bruins will put their work to the test starting Sunday.

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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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