NEW HAVEN, Conn. – When UCLA coach Derek Freeman heard the Bruins were headed across the country to New Haven, Conn., as a No. 1 seed in their NCAA regional, he knew exactly what to do next.
Make the most of it.
“That’s part of the experience of college golf,” said Freeman, who booked his team on a red-eye flight Monday night direct from Los Angeles to New York City.
In order to combat the jet lag, Freeman packed UCLA’s five into a big white van and drove them straight into Manhattan.
“I wanted to keep them up on Tuesday as long as I could,” he said. “And a lot of these guys had never been (to New York City).”
They walked around the city, through Times Square, and went to the top of the Empire State Building.
“It was snowing up there,” said Pontus Widegren, a freshman from Sweden.
Considering Thursday’s perfect weather at The Course at Yale, that seemed hard to believe.
“It was raining down on the street, and some flakes were there when you got on top,” Freeman said. “I wish the weather had been a little better.”
Fortunately, the precipitation had no effect on the pizza. The Bruins, who sit in a tie for sixth after Round 1, ducked into a “hole-in-the-wall pizza joint” for lunch, which Freeman described as “crazy Italians cooking, yelling, wanting us to order as fast as we could.”
Widegren, having now seen Los Angeles and New York this year, loved every second of it. (You should have heard his impression of a New York accent.)
“I love Manhattan,” he said. “It’s so cool.”
Especially at the top of that tall building.