Feb. 9, 2007
The fifth-ranked UCLA women's golf team begins the 2007 season at the annual Regional Challenge, hosted by Ohio State and USC at the Palos Verdes Country Club, Feb. 12-14.
The 15-team field includes 13 ranked teams and four teams ranked in the Top 10 by GolfWeek. UCLA won this event in 2004 on its way to winning the national championship. Arizona State is the defending champion.
UCLA will field a team of one senior, one junior, two sophomores and one freshman. The Bruins' remaining freshman will compete as an individual.
"The Palos Verdes Country Club is probably the toughest course we play all year," said Head Coach Carrie Forsyth. "There's always a very strong field, and it's a great way to begin our championship segment."
Senior Hannah Jun begins the final stretch of her college career with a pair of victories in 98 career rounds. Her best finish at the Regional Challenge was a tie for 15th in 2005. She enters the event with a 73.5 scoring average and a pair of Top 20 finishes in the Fall.
Junior Maiya Tanaka will be playing her first round of collegiate golf at the Regional Challenge. A fine junior player three years ago, Tanaka had settled in as a UCLA student before earning a roster spot in the Fall.
Both of the Bruins' sophomores have contributed immensely to the team's success this season. All-American Tiffany Joh led the team with a 72.0 scoring average and three Top 10 finishes in the Fall. She also leads the team with six rounds (out of 12) under 70. Joh tied for 16th at last year's Regional Challenge. Ryann O'Toole has improved her scoring average more than four strokes from last year and is averaging 73.0 in 12 rounds. She has recorded one Top 10 finish, three Top 20s and fired a final round 66 (-6) at the Las Vegas event in November to capture seventh place.
Finally, true freshman Sydnee Michaels is averaging 73.4 with one Top 20 finish in nine rounds. She tied for 11th at the season-opening Mason Rudolph Invitational. Freshman Lalita Boonnoppornkul will play as an individual at the Regional Challenge.
"Teams that are mentally tough tend to do well at Palos Verdes, and those that aren't, don't," said Forsyth. "Our players are working hard, especially on the greens because putting is crucial to scoring well at the Regional Challenge."