Former transfer Lopez remains loyal to UCLA

UCLA's Lee Lopez

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1Alison LeeUCLA  69.96 
2Stephanie MeadowAlabama  70.17 
3Gaby LopezArkansas  70.29 
4Noemi JimenezArizona St  70.31 
5Celine BoutierDuke  70.40 

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1Southern California 70.64  13 
2UCLA 70.83  12 
3Duke 70.89  11 
4Stanford 71.74  13 
5Arizona State 71.75  12 

WOLCOTT, Colo. – Three years ago, UCLA head coach Carrie Forsyth welcomed a transfer from Long Beach State onto her roster. That player, now a senior, had the opportunity to pay back that opportunity this fall.

Lee Lopez, a soft-spoken Bruins senior, is holding firm to the responsibility that comes with being an upperclassman. She recently turned down an opportunity to play for Mexico in this week’s Women’s World Amateur Team Championship so that she could remain with a Bruins team that lacks depth. It wasn’t an easy decision, but Lopez has no regrets.

In April, Lopez completed the process for dual citizenship in the United States and Mexico, where her parents and grandparents were born. It took a year to get through all the paperwork, but Lopez, of Whittier, Calif., says it will make it easier to visit family there in the future. It also made her eligible to play for Mexico at the World Amateur Team Championship in Antalya, Turkey. That was a perk Lopez hadn’t considered. In fact, she hadn’t even known when applying for dual citizenship that the tournament was to be played this fall.

As soon as the invitation was extended to Lopez, she knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially since this likely will be her last year as an amateur. She hopes to turn pro as soon as her eligibility is over.

Lopez, however, already knew that teammates Kyle Roig and Erynne Lee would be selected to represent Puerto Rico and the U.S., respectively. Fellow senior Tiffany Lua is using the start of the season to get some much-needed rest for a sore wrist. So Lopez decided to sit this one out, and because of her, UCLA was able to play with four at the Golfweek Conference Challenge. Lopez (T-20) was the low Bruin as the team finished ninth.

“It was a hard decision, but I knew that I had a commitment to my team and to Carrie and (assistant coach) Alicia (Holmes) just because I transferred here and I felt like they gave me an opportunity to be a part of their team,” she said. “I just wanted to fulfill my whole commitment, the whole four years.”

It’s an admirable decision and a rare one, as acknowledged by Forsyth.

“You can’t replace a player like Lee,” she said. “She’s just so appreciative.”

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