Top-Ranked Golf Team Begins Season in Illinois

Sept. 18, 2008

The top-ranked UCLA men's golf team begins the 2008 season on Friday at the Olympia Fields/Fighting Illini Invitational.

The No.1 ranked Bruins highlight a 15-team field that includes seven teams ranked in the Top 25. Two of those teams -- No. 5 Stanford and No. 12 Arizona State -- are representing the Pac-10 Conference. Other ranked teams include No. 2 Oklahoma State, 11th-ranked Florida State, No. 20 Indiana and No. 24 Texas.

'We're very excited to get the season underway,' said head coach Derek Freeman. 'With this championship style golf course and highly competitive field, we are looking forward to playing in this tournament. It will allow us to get a serious evaluation of where the players' games are now.'

Three players return from the UCLA team that won the 2008 NCAA championship: seniors Erik Flores and Lucas Lee and sophomore Philip Francis. Sophomore Connor Driscoll and freshman Mauricio Azcue complete the fivesome competing at Olympia Fields.

Flores, a two-time All-American, ended the 2008 collegiate season ranked 22nd nationally. He returns for his final season as team's career leader in percentage of rounds under par (37.6%) and stroke average (72.7). He tied for 33rd at the NCAA Championship.

Lee finished the season ranked 69th with a stroke average of 73.3. He leads the team in tournament victories with five, a total that ranks fourth on UCLA's all-time list.

Francis also tied for 33rd at the NCAA Championship and was ranked 82nd by the end of the season. He earned All-Pac-10 honors and boasted a 93% counter ratio, a figure that leads the returning players.

Dirscoll played 21 collegiate rounds last season and tied for ninth at the UCLA-hosted CordeValle Classic in November.

Azcue, considered Mexico's top amateur player, will represent his country in the World Junior Amateur Championships next month in Australia.

Olympia Fields, site of the 2003 U.S. Open, will play to a par of 70 over 7,157 yards.

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