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Women’s golf places 2nd amid adverse weather conditions at first tournament

Sophomore Emma Spitz was UCLA women’s golf’s lowest scorer at The Match in the Desert, shooting an even-par 144 over the course of the two-day tournament. (Courtesy of Connor Smith)

By Jay Fenn

Jan. 27, 2021 1:16 p.m.

The Bruins began their challenge-riddled season with some nature-caused difficulties.

UCLA women’s golf finished second in a three-team pool in The Match in the Desert at the Superstition Mountain Golf Club in Gold Canyon, Arizona. It shot a 15-over 591 over the course of two rain-filled days, which was 14 shots back of the winner, Arizona State. Denver, the last team competing, rounded out the tournament with an 18-over 594.

The Bruins played through turbulent weather during the first round Sunday, coach Carrie Forsyth said.

“The conditions were pretty tough,” said Forsyth. “There were multiple delays with hail and lightning.”

UCLA had its better day of the tournament Sunday, shooting a 5-under 283. Sophomore Emma Spitz had the team’s best individual round of the weekend, carding a 2-under 70.

Spitz said the colder conditions made it harder for her to know her distances, affecting the ball’s flight.

“It is always so difficult in the cold to know how far the ball is gonna fly,” Spitz said. “With the wind also, there were just so many factors that the ball was affected by.”

After day one, the Bruins sat in second place, five strokes off the pace set by the Sun Devils. However, UCLA was not able to make a comeback, and the inclement weather saw the team with fewer birdies and more bogeys.

The Bruins shot a 20-over 308 for the second round, 25 shots worse than their opening round showing. The rest of the field also had a difficult time Monday, with the eventual tournament-winning Sun Devils shooting an 11-over 299 in the second round.

“(Monday) was definitely tougher relative to the temperature and the wind,” Forsyth said. “It was really cold and pretty windy with a lot of rain later in the day.”

Even with the tough conditions, Spitz had the best showing out of the Bruins, shooting an even 144 and finishing tied for third place overall. Her 2-under 70 on Sunday was tied for the fourth-best score of anyone in the field and her 2-over 74 on Monday was tied for the lowest round of the day.

“I thought I played very solid considering how bad the weather was,” Spitz said. “Overall, I think it was a good first tournament.”

Behind Spitz came sophomores Annabel Wilson and Emilie Paltrinieri, who both shot 4-over 148 and finished the tournament tied for seventh. Rounding out the Bruins’ starting lineup were juniors Simar Singh and Phoebe Yue, both of whom finished in a tie for 12th place, with 8-over 152s.

Although she was not disappointed in her team’s performance, Forsyth said the Bruins need to tighten up their play on and around the greens in the weeks to come.

However, the 22-season coach said that it will be tough to work on the team’s short game as most of the facilities and courses it uses to practice are closed currently because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We got to work on our short game for sure,” Forsyth said. “We just need more repetition around the green.”

Spitz said her putting issues arose from not reading the greens correctly, but the problems could also be attributed to an abundance of nerves or rust with it being the first tournament of the year and the first time the Bruins have played together in 10 months.

Forsyth reiterated her team was dealing with nervous energy after the long layover, and she thinks a little more time on the course will help sharpen its game.

“It has been a while since we competed, so I could expect there to be some nerves involved,” Forsyth said. “I feel like we just need a little bit more time to get a little sharper. Overall, I liked a lot of what I saw. First event back, I feel pretty good about it.”

UCLA has a couple of weeks off until its next tournament, the Lamkin Invitational, which begins Feb. 8.

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Jay Fenn | Sports reporter
Fenn is currently a Sports reporter on the beach volleyball and men's and women's golf beats.
Fenn is currently a Sports reporter on the beach volleyball and men's and women's golf beats.
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