Depth Gives No. 2 Bruins Confidence Heading To NCAA Championship
In ten starts this season, the No. 2 UCLA women's golf team has won five tournaments and recorded nine straight podium finishes.
And of the Bruins' top five players, each has finished either first or second at least once this season. Because of this depth, UCLA's shot at a national championship has never been better.
"When you know that you have five players who can be in contention to win, then you have great depth," head coach Carrie Forsyth said. "I think that's the strength of our team. Every one of our girls, one through five, can win individually."
This depth took the Bruins to a first-place finish at the NCAA Central Regional in South Bend, Ind., two weeks ago.
"It's a testament to this team that we could go into the [NCAA Regional] and not be fearful at all," Forsyth said. "The regional can be really intense for the teams that come in on the bubble. We didn't feel like we were going to have any problem getting through the regional, and that's a really good feeling."
All five starters on the team were named to the All-Pac-10 team, with Stephanie Kono, Lee Lopez and Tiffany Lua earning first team honors and senior Glory Yang and freshman Ani Gulugian receiving second-team accolades.
Throughout the 2011 season, Kono has led the way for the Bruins. She is the team leader in top-5 finishes (4), top-10 finishes (6), rounds under par (13) and scoring average (72.5).
With no team captain, Forsyth said that each member of the team takes it upon themselves to provide leadership to their teammates.
"We don't have very outspoken leaders, but they're there," Forsyth said. "It's more about the trust that they have instilled in each other, that they're going to do what they have to do to be successful individually and as a team."
According to Forsyth, one of the Bruins that exhibits these qualities is senior Glory Yang, who "has really been showing her team how much she cares with her work ethic."
Yang, a native of Seoul, South Korea, has a stroke average of 73.8 for the 2011 season and is ranked No. 28 by GolfStat. She expressed her expectations for the NCAA Championships.
"We definitely want to win. But at the same time, I really want to have fun with [my teammates], and just go out there confidently, believing in ourselves and in each other," Yang said.
For many collegiate golfers, a professional career is the assumed next step after graduation. But for Yang, this isn't the path that she's going to follow. She plans to return to South Korea, where her family still resides. Yang found strength knowing that this is the end of her competitive golf career.
"I'm able to enjoy [the game of golf] more, I'm able to appreciate my coaches, my teammates, my trainers, everybody," Yang said. "It really made me just enjoy golf, instead of stressing out about it."
Yang and the Bruins will travel to the NCAA Championships in College Station, Texas, at Traditions Golf Course. UCLA has five podium finishes at the NCAA Championships under Forsyth, winning the title once back in 2004.
Last year, the Bruins finished sixth. Forsyth hopes for a better finish this year.
"I hope that each of our players, as an individual, has the opportunity to win or be in the top-10, because we can do that. We have that depth of talent," Forsyth said.
"I'd like to win, obviously, and I know our team would love to win. But in our sport, so much of it you don't control. You only control yourself. My expectation is that we will be out there playing with poise, confidence and with belief in our ability as a team to do what it takes."
The 2011 NCAA Division-I Women's Golf Championship starts Wednesday, May 18. Click here for more information about the championship.