South Central: UCLA up by 10; Arkansas lagging
Top team: UCLA, 4-under 284
Top individual: Pedro Figueiredo (UCLA) and Jonathan Fly (Memphis), 4-under 68
In position: T-2. Chattanooga, Colorado State (294), T-4. Clemson, Texas A&M, North Texas, Memphis (295)
Chasing: 8. Virginia Tech (297), 9. Northwestern (301)
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No surprise here: UCLA doesn’t often travel east. No, the Bruins played a West Coast-heavy competition schedule this season, but seem to fare well on the road. Their second of two victories came in Atlanta at the U.S. Collegiate in October, and they were runner-up at the Windon Memorial Classic in Skokie, Ill., the same month.
Seems fitting that the top-seeded Bruins are leading the South Central Regional in Bowling Green, Ky., after Thursday’s first round. UCLA shot 4-under 284 at The Club at Olde Stone for a 10-shot lead on Chattanooga and Colorado State.
Predictably, UCLA got a big push from sophomore Patrick Cantlay, who shot 3-under 69 for solo third on the individual leaderboard. Two other Bruins, Anton Arboleda and Alex Kim, also are in the top 20 individually.
UCLA, ranked No. 4 by Golfweek hasn’t finished outside the top 5 in 11 starts this season. If it can keep that trend alive, advancing to the NCAA Championship should be cake.
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Digging a hole: Arkansas proved its ability to dominate a match-play format by winning the Callaway Collegiate Match Play earlier this spring. Head coach Brad McMakin was cautious that week about counting his chickens before they hatched – the team needs to get to match play at the NCAA Championship before thinking about the matches.
And Arkansas really needs to advance through regionals before it can get to match play.
With seven regular-season wins and a No. 10 Golfweek ranking, Arkansas looks as tough as anyone. Seems likely its first-round 14-over 302 was a fluke, especially considering the Razorbacks hadn’t posted a team score higher than 299 yet this season.
Short shots: Three individuals to keep an eye on during the next two rounds in Bowling Green? Start with Cantlay, who won regionals last year as a freshman. Also look out for Chattanooga’s top player Stephan Jaeger, who is one shot behind Cantlay after a first-round 70. Missouri’s Jace Long is playing the South Central Regional as an individual after last year winning the Southeast Regional. He shot a first-round 74 and has a share of 18th. . . . Aside from No. 4 UCLA, Texas A&M (No. 11) and Clemson (No. 20) round out teams among Golfweek’s top 20 in this field. . . . So far, par seems to be a good score. Only one team (UCLA) and six individuals managed to post red numbers in Round 1.