May 25, 2007
The eighth-ranked UCLA women's golf team completed a remarkable season Friday at the LPGA International Legends Course in Daytona Beach, Fla., finishing third at the NCAA Championship.
After losing two All-Americans from last year's team, which placed 11th nationally, the Bruins improved their NCAA finish in 2007 with a team that some doubted would even make the tournament.
Credit Head Coach Carrie Forsyth and first-year Assistant Coach Alicia Um for their steady resolve and ability to peak the Bruins under the pressure of the postseason. In their final three events -- the Pac-10 Championship, the NCAA East Regional and the NCAA Championship, the Bruins finished no worse than third with a roster of six players, including a pair of walk-ons.
"There was so much talent last year, we just cruised on it," said Forsyth, who completed her eighth season. "And this year, because of the circumstances, there's no cruising. This is a better team."
This year's challenges included Forsyth's Fall maternity leave, which left Um, three months on the job, the task of shaping, traveling with and counseling the team. The obstacles also included a pair of untested walk-ons, one of whom did not play until February. Junior Maiya Tanaka, who last year at this time was a UCLA student, brought all of 15 rounds of collegiate experience to the Legends Course and tied for 65th place. To put that in perspective, consider that Jane Park -- one of the Bruins' defections from 2006, a first-team All-American as a freshman, and the 2004 U.S. Women's Amateur champion -- tied for 83rd at last season's NCAA Tournament.
"We've had to make some adjustments," Forsyth told GolfWeek Thursday. "The chemistry [on this year's team] is really good."
Good enough harmony for the Bruins to post a final round score of 293 (+5) and finish with a 72-hole total of 1,186 (+34), one stroke behind Big Ten champion Purdue and 16 shots behind Duke, which won its third straight national championship. The Bruins also beat arch rival USC, which finished fourth at 1,196 (+44), and Stanford, which placed fifth at 1,197 (+45).
Individually, the sophomore Tiffany Joh placed fifth at three-over par 291 after posting an even par 72 in the final round. Senior Hannah Jun ground out a 73 (+1) on Friday and captured eighth place at 295 (+7). Freshman Sydnee Michaels, the East Regional medalist, tied for 21st at 300 (+12), following a final round 71 (-1) and sophomore Ryann O'Toole tied for 46th at 305 (+17). Tanaka, who carded a final round score of 77 (+5), had a 72-hole total of 309 (+21).
For complete results, click here.