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UCLA women’s golf sets course for NCAA Las Vegas regionals

Caroline Canales watches her tee shot on hole six during the first round of the 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles on Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. (Courtesy of James Gilbert/USGA)

By Sabrina Messiha

May 5, 2024 4:18 p.m.

The first stop on the path to a national championship lies in Sin City.

But for the Bruins, it’s a stop they already know – and have won at.

No. 1 seed UCLA women’s golf will compete at the NCAA Las Vegas regionals from Monday to Wednesday, competing at a familiar course – the Spanish Trail Country Club. Only two months prior to regionals, the Bruins competed in the UNLV-hosted The Show at the very same course, leaving in a tie for first.

The Spanish Trail Country Club is notorious among the team for being a windy course with relatively firm greens due to the dryness of the Nevada deserts. The Bruins are preparing for high winds up to 50 miles per hour during the practice session but are applying past experiences from their earlier reps at the course to their game this upcoming week.

“When they (the greens) are firm, the ball hits and starts rolling way farther than usual,” said junior Caroline Canales. “So it requires a little bit more thought in terms of picking which club we’re going to hit and anticipating how much the ball is going to roll once it hits the green.”

UCLA will meet Arkansas, Arizona, Florida State, California, Purdue, Baylor, Oklahoma, Colorado State, Kent State, Xavier and Dartmouth at the Las Vegas regional, each ranked from second to twelfth seed, respectively, with the top five teams from the batch moving on to the NCAA championships.

There are six total regions that compete in the NCAA, with Stanford, South Carolina, Wake Forest, LSU and USC joining UCLA as the other No. 1 seeds.

“The main goal is we want to make it to nationals, so we want to finish in the top five,” said coach Alicia Um Holmes. “We are just trying to do what we’ve been doing all year.”

This past week, junior Zoe Antoinette Campos was selected for the All-Pac-12 team for her performance this past season. It is her second career recognition, with her first following the 2022-2023 season. Canales joined Campos on the All-Pac-12 team last season and was included in the All-Pac-12 Honorable Mentions list this season.

Campos also took home first place at this same course earlier this year but has been working to improve consistency with her driver to apply to regionals.

“I’m going to remind her that every tournament is different,” Um Holmes said. “Recently, her ball striking has been a little bit off, so it’s been hard for her to score.”

Campos recently switched back to an old driver in hopes of gaining more confidence and hitting more birdies.

“I’ve hit it a lot more consistently than the newer one,” Campos said. “It’s definitely going to give me a little bit more confidence going into regionals.”

The Bruins’ end to their 2022-2023 season at the San Antonio regional was marked by the retirement of longtime coach Carrie Forsyth, who announced her departure shortly after the team’s Pac-12 championship performance.

Canales appreciates this season’s coaching staff, who allow her to play her game without pressure to place high.

“She (Um Holmes) and Erynne (assistant coach Erynne Yoo) have done a really good job really avoiding putting pressure on us and making our only goal to stick to our process,” Canales said. “Their only wish is that we obviously give 100% effort, fighting the whole time.”

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