Oct. 19, 2007
The UCLA men's golf team, ranked second nationally in the preseason polls, travels to the opening event of its 2007-08 season this weekend. The Bruins will participate in the fourth annual Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge, Oct. 21-22, at Chambers Bay Golf Course in Tacoma, WA.
While many schools have played two or three events this Fall, this weekend's tournament will be the Bruins' first appearance. In the preseason GolfWeek poll, UCLA was ranked No.2 nationally, but has not been ranked since because of its inactivity.
"We're very excited to finally play this week," said first-year Head Coach Derek Freeman. "We've had some great preparation in the weeks leading up to this event. Our players have worked very hard to earn their spots."
This year's UCLA team features seven returning lettermen from a team that won five times last season and tied for seventh nationally. Included among the returnees are three All-Americans, and three players who have won a total of eight individual titles. So tough is the competition to make the top five, that top-ranked freshman Philip Francis will be playing as an individual in Tacoma this weekend.
"Qualifying went very well and our players (now) understand that to play (in the top five) at UCLA, they have to be ready to compete every day," said Freeman. "That's the way it is at the next level and that's the way it is in our program."
Chappell won twice last season, led the team in scoring and earned 2nd Team GCAA All-America honors. He completed last season ranked 13th nationally.
Lee, a junior, earned 3rd Team All-America honors and leads the team with four career victories. He averaged 71.7 a year ago and finished the season ranked 22nd.
Lelslie, a senior, has one career victory, averaged 73.9 as a junior and boasts 79 career collegiate rounds.
Kang, a sophomore, earned a trip to the NCAA Championship last season as a freshman, averaging 73.3 in 38 rounds.
Driscoll makes his debut in a Bruins uniform at the No.5 spot. He was the nation's 18th ranked recruit last year.
Hosted by Oregon and Northwestern, the Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge features four teams from each conference battling for team and individual honors. This year's champion will be decided by Monday's match play format.
Chambers Bay will play to a par of 72 over 7,109 yards.
"Chambers Bay is a brand new golf course," said Freeman. "It's links-style, right on Puget Sound. All of the natural elements will be in play. We're all looking forward to competing there."
UCLA has participated in the tournament every year since the event's 2004 inception and won the title last year at Pacific Dunes in Bandon, OR. The Pac-10 has won two of the three previous events, each by 29 strokes.