April 8, 2007
The eighth-ranked UCLA men's golf team travels to the prestigious United States Collegiate Championship, hosted by The Golf Club of Georgia, Apr. 9-11. The event is considered one of the nation's best and features one of the season's strongest fields.
Thirteen of the 15 teams in the field are ranked in the latest Golf Coaches Assn. of America Top 25 poll, including top-ranked Georgia, No. 3 Alabama and fourth-ranked Florida. UCLA and fifth-ranked USC represent the Pac-10 Conference.
The nation's top five ranked individuals highlight the players' field -- No.1 Rhys Davies of East Tennessee State, No.2 Jamie Lovemark of USC, third ranked Billy Horschel of Florida and Georgia's Brian Harman and Chris Kirk, ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.
"The U.S. Collegiate Championship is one of the best events in the country," said Head Coach O.D. Vincent. "We're looking forward to playing The Golf Club of Georgia as it is one of the three (NCAA) regional sites this Spring."
The Bruins' lineup this week features three juniors, a sophomore and a freshman.
Returning after missing the last event is junior Daniel Im, who is the reigning Pac-10 individual champion.
"We are excited to have Daniel back in the lineup and he is eager to compete," said the head coach.
Im missed his first Gold Team event in nearly three years after struggling with his game in the last three events. Although he has averaged 70.3 in the first round of his last three events, he has averaged 77.1 in the final 36 holes of those tournaments. Overall, he has averaged 73.9 in 24 rounds this season, nearly a full stroke higher than his career average.
By contrast, junior Kevin Chappell, ranked 26th this week, has recorded three straight Top 10s this Spring, including a victory at the Oregon Duck Invitational on Mar. 27. In his last nine rounds, he has averaged 71.5 with four rounds under par and two rounds under 70. His season scoring average is 72.2 with eight rounds under par and five rounds in the 60s.
Junior Craig Leslie recorded one of his best results recently, tying for 11th place at the NIT. His third round 69 (-3) was one of the best final rounds of his collegiate career. He is enjoying one of his best seasons at UCLA, recording a 95% counter ratio and three Top 10 finishes in eight starts.
Sophomore Lucas Lee leads the team with a scoring average of 72.0 in 30 rounds. Lee also leads the team with 10 rounds under par and seven rounds under 70. He was ranked 27th this week with victories at Cal State Bakersfield and Southern Highlands. He has won four collegiate titles in two seasons.
Freshman Jason Kang tied for 16th at the NIT and dropped his season stroke average to 73.4. He has recorded five straight Top 25 finishes, including a tie for fourth at the Cal State Bakersfield event last month.