April 18, 2008
The third-ranked UCLA men's golf team returns to competition this week, traveling to Stanford to participate in the U.S. Intercollegiate, Apr. 19-20 at the Stanford Golf Course.
Fresh from a 16-stroke victory at the Administaff Augusta State Invitational, the Bruins have risen to No.3 in the national rankings and now boast four tournament titles in Head Coach Derek Freeman's first season.
"This team has begun to see the payoff of its diligence," said Freeman. "As we progress into the championship phase of the season, I expect our top five players to emerge and help us contend for some important titles."
Six players have emerged with enough solid results earn spots on the Gold Team. Unfortunately, only five can play in the Stanford event.
Senior Kevin Chappell, juniors Lucas Lee and Erik Flores and freshman Philip Francis have established themselves as the top four players. Senior Criag Leslie and sophomore Jason Kang will battle for the fifth spot in the next two events.
Chappell, ranked fourth nationally, tied for third place at six-under par in the Augusta State event. Recently named a semifinalist for the Hogan Award, he leads the team in scoring average (71.3) and has Top 10 finishes in five of his seven events this season. For the year, he is 10-under par in 20 rounds.
Flores, a 2006 2nd Team GCAA All-American, has returned to form in 2008. His scoring average of 71.7 is the best of his career and he ranks 16th in the country. He leads the team in career percentage of subpar rounds (40%), and this season 100% of his rounds have been counters. In 23 rounds, he is two-under par.
Lee won the Augusta State tournament with a 10-under par total of 134, his fifth career tournament victory. That total ranks fourth all-time on the UCLA charts. After a sluggish start this season, he has averaged 70.9 in his last 10 rounds with two Top 5 results.
Francis, the top-ranked recruit in the country a year ago, has quietly put together a solid rookie season, recording three Top 20 finishes, an 86% counter percentage and a 73.2 scoring average.
Leslie and Kang have battled most of the season with comparable results. Although Kang boasts a better counter percentage (87%), Leslie has a better scoring average (73.3). Both have recorded a pair of Top 10 finishes, three Top 20 results and four rounds under 70.