Preview: Can UCLA’s women regain winning ways?
By the time college golf reached its winter hiatus, the Tale of the Unbeatable Bruins seemed like a big fish story from the 2011-12 season. But UCLA really was that good a year ago. A Pac-12 team can’t fake its way through seven titles in a season, which is why it was so shocking when the Bruins didn’t claim victory No. 8 at the national championship. Instead, eight was their final spot on the leaderboard.
Four finishes of eighth or worse followed in fall 2012, which prompts the question: What changed?
The Bruins simply had too many moving parts in the fall, which likely put pressure on the remaining players. It started with the graduation of Brianna Do, who was asked to – and did – step up a year ago when Stephanie Kono exited for the pros a semester early. With Tiffany Lua benched by a wrist injury, the veteran category was empty. Erynne Lee, last season’s leading scorer and the national Freshman of the Year, missed the fall opener to represent the U.S. at the Women’s World Amateur Team Championship.
Lee is the only returner who has lowered her stroke average in the fall. At the end of last season, the Bruins’ team average was 289. Through four fall tournaments, it’s nine strokes higher.
The best thing that can happen for UCLA this spring would be the return of the old Lua, health permitting. But her teammates have to rally around her, too. With sophomore Kyle Roig no longer with the team – Forsyth and Roig decided it would be best if she left the team – that leaves two unproven freshmen – Louise Ridderstrom and Jacquie LeMarr – in the lineup with Lee, plus Ani Gulugian and Lee Lopez.