March 2, 2008
The third-ranked UCLA men's golf program will be in action at two tournaments next week. Beginning Mar. 3 at North Ranch Country Club, the Blue Team will tee it up at the Ashworth Invitational, hosted by USC. On Mar. 7, the Gold Team competes in the Southern Highlands Collegiate Invitational at Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas.
North Ranch will play to a par of 72 over 6,972 yards and Southern Highlands stretches 7,510 yards with a par of 72.
UCLA has enjoyed success at both venues. Twenty years ago, the Bruins won their only NCAA title in men's golf at North Ranch, rallying from 13 strokes behind on the inward nine to win by three strokes over the University of Texas El Paso. UCLA also won this event in 2003, 1984, 1981 and 1979.
Last year the Bruins won the team and individual honors at Southern Highlands. UCLA's score of 874 (+10) won by three strokes over Georgia. Lucas Lee won medalist honors with a 54-hole score of 213 (-3).
"It will be a busy week for our team," said Head Coach Derek F reeman. "Both tournaments will offer us an opportunity to compete against quality fields and to sharpen our focus for the championship segment of our schedule."
Senior Brandon Christianson, juniors Lucas Lee and James Lee, sophomore Ben Choe and freshman Connor Driscoll will compete at the Ashworth event. Lucas Lee tied for 10th there last season and in 2006 James Lee tied for 41st.
To the Southern Highlands event, UCLA will send seniors Kevin Chappell and Craig Leslie, junior Erik Flores, sophomore Jason Kang and freshman Philip Francis. In three starts at Southern Highlands, Chappell's best finish came last season when he placed ninth. Flores tied for 18th in 2007 and Leslie tied for 36th in 2006. Chappell, ranked fourth nationally entering the event, figures to be one of the favorites for the individual title.
"Kevin has elevated his game to player of the year proportions," said Freeman. "Based on the season he's having thus far, he is now mentioned as a contender at every tournament."
Last month, Chappell established a UCLA 54-hole scoring record by winning the PING/Arizona Intercollegiate with scores of 67-67-64--198 (-15). He claims four career collegiate victories and has compiled 11 straight Top 20 results. In addition, he won four matches at the Collegiate Match Play Championship in November to lead the Bruins to victory.
On Feb. 26, Flores won his first collegiate title by beating Leslie for the crown at the Cal State Baskersfield Invitational. Flores birdied the 54th hole to win by one stroke.