Feb. 6, 2004
The second-ranked UCLA men's golf team kicks off the Winter season at the TaylorMade Big Island Classic, hosted by the University of Hawaii-Hilo at the Waikoloa Resort.
"It's important for us to get off to a good start," said Head Coach O.D. Vincent. "The tournament will have a strong field and we'll be ready for it. It will be one of several tournaments this spring where we will be defending champions."
At this tournament last season, the Bruins began an incredible run that has propelled them to a place among the nation's elite teams. After winning their first tournament of the 2002-03 season, the Bruins came to Hawaii ranked 17th nationally. UCLA won this event by two shots, and by the end of the season, had won seven tournaments to lead the nation. The Bruins finished third at the NCAA Tournament, second in the national rankings.
Since February, 2003, the Bruins have won 10 of 14 events and have produced six individual champions. Dating to the Fall of 2002, the Bruins have placed among the Top 10 teams in 18 straight events.
During the Fall of 2003, the Bruins won three out of five events, including the Fall Preview, which featured the nation's best field.
In addition, three players - seniors John Merrick and Steve Conway and junior John Poucher - have added individual titles to their resumes. The Bruins also boast senior three-year lettermen Travis Johnson and Roy Moon, which gives them one of the most experienced and talented lineups in the country.
Conway leads the team with a stroke average of 71.9, four Top 20 finishes and four rounds under 70. Merrick is next at 72.4, followed by Poucher at 72.7.
In addition, freshman Chris Heintz has qualified to play in the Buick Open at Torrey Pines, Feb. 12-15. Assistant Coach Tony Kewalramani will caddie for him during the practice rounds and during the tournament competition.
"The Buick Open will be a fabulous opportunity for Chris," said Vincent. "He will experience first-hand what it's like to play in a professional tournament. He has the right approach, and his opportunity was well-earned."
Heintz fired a one-under par 71 on Oct. 25 to earn one of two spots available to amateurs in the event.
In four Fall events, Heintz averaged 73.8 with a pair of Top 10 finishes and two rounds under par. He tied for second place at the SCU Invitational and finished ninth at The Prestige, the best UCLA finish at the tournament.
"Chris wants to give it his best shot," Vincent continued. "He'll have a lot of fun, hopefully make the cut and gain valuable insight into what it takes to play at that level."
"We wish him the best of luck and we're very proud of him."