Nov. 18, 2010
The second-ranked UCLA men's golf program ended a successful fall campaign by signing three veteran junior players to National Letters of Intent, Head Coach Derek Freeman announced Thursday.
Jay Hwang (Torrey Pines HS, San Diego, CA), Matt Pinizzotto (Palma HS, Salinas, CA) and Preston Valder (Servite HS, Yorba Linda, CA) are each veteran junior players with a variety of experience.
"We're thrilled about Jay, Matt, and Preston coming to UCLA," said Freeman who began his fourth season coaching the Bruins this fall. "All of them fit into our system very well. They've each enjoyed successful junior careers and it will be exciting to watch them grow and improve during their collegiate careers. They're very seasoned and experienced and we look forward to getting them on campus."
Hwang earned Honorable Mention All-America honors from the AJGA last month. He was ranked as high as seventh in 2009. In August, he tied for fifth place at the Junior PGA Championship with scores of 70-70-72--212 (-4). On the Jr. Golf Scoreboard circuit, he was ranked 18th with a victory and 11 other Top 20 results. In addition, as a member of the Canon Cup Team (West) this summer, he helped lead his side to a victory, winning his match 7 & 6. Finally, he was the runner-up in the 2009 U.S. Jr. Amateur.
Pinizzotto has been rising steadily in the AJGA rankings in the past 12 months. Last October, he was ranked 336th and rose to 35th in 2010. In four starts, he did not finish worse than a tie for 13th and recorded three Top 10 results in three of them. In July, he tied for second place at the TEE UP Junior Challenge with scores of 69-67-75--211 (-5) and a month earlier he tied for fourth at the ClubCorp Mission Hills Desert Junior with scores of 76-71-69--216 (E). On the Jr. Golf Scoreboard rankings, he recorded two wins in 13 starts with 10 other Top 20 finishes.
Preston Valder was ranked as high as 33rd in the AJGA rankings this year. In 2009, he won the PING/Phoenix Jr. with scores of 66-69-68--203 (-13). Last October, he was named a 2nd Team AJGA All-American. A teammate of UCLA freshman Patrick Cantlay at Servite HS, he helped lead the Friars to a pair of CIF-SS golf championships the last two years. This past spring, he earned 1st Team All-Orange County honors.