Saturday, April 13

UCLA men’s golf freshmen find career-best finishes to end regular season

Freshman Pablo Ereño Perez swings his club at the Southwestern Invitational. Along with freshman Omar Morales, Ereño Perez nabbed a tie for seventh place at the El Macero Classic. (Courtesy of Eric Hurd/UCLA Athletics)


El Macero Classic

Eighth place (-1, 863)

Two Bruin freshmen carded career-best performances in the last tournament of the regular season.

UCLA men’s golf closed out its regular season by finishing fifth overall in the El Macero Classic, which was held Wednesday to Friday in El Macero, California. Freshmen Pablo Ereño Perez and Omar Morales finished tied for seventh place to pace the blue and gold.

Morales, who broke the previous season-best finish he set at the Wolf Pack Classic in October, said he had his strongest performance of the year in El Macero.

“I didn’t get off to a good start in the spring,” Morales said. “Last week, I played below average, and I think I played good this week.”

At the Thunderbird Collegiate from April 15 to 16, Morales finished in a tie for 46th place.

Ereño Perez, who also improved from a 14th-place performance at The Goodwin in March, added that the El Macero Country Club course worked out in his favor because it was short and narrow.

“I am not a long hitter,” Ereño Perez said. “The course being shorter helped me. It was an advantage for me.”

Following the second round, Morales was tied for 17th place before both Morales and Ereño Perez closed the tournament at a 4-under 212.

Trailing Morales and Ereño Perez was graduate student Eddy Lai, who finished one stroke above the freshman duo. Lai carded an even-par 72 for a share of 25th place on the first day. After the final round, he had a 3-under 213 in his final regular season tournament as a Bruin, a mark that placed him in a tie for 12th place.

Junior Mason Greene added a 9-over 225 to place him in a tie for 57th place, while redshirt sophomore Alvaro Muller tied for 61st place with a 10-over 226. Ten strokes behind in a tie for 82nd place was freshman Evan Chien, who played an overall 20-over 236.

The 2021-2022 season will be 15-year coach Derek Freeman’s last year with the program. Ereño Perez said he wanted to play well for his coach in his last season.

“I am sad because he recruited me,” Ereño Perez said. “I wanted to win a tournament and still can.”

Morales said he is grateful for the opportunity to have spent one season with Freeman and the memories created with the team.

Despite the season-best performance to close out the year, Ereño Perez said he was not satisfied with the way he played in his freshman year.

“I played good in some tournaments and not so good in others,” Ereño Perez said. “I am a little disappointed in that, and I want to be more consistent.”

Pac-12 championships

The Bruins will return to the green at the 2022 Pac-12 championships from Monday to Wednesday at the Aldarra Golf Club in Sammamish, Washington.

Morales said he plans to carry the same momentum from this past week into the playoffs.

“It will be a good championship tournament because it has a good field,” Ereño Perez said. “I am excited to see what we can do.”

Sports contributor

Healy is currently a Sports contributor on the men's golf beat.

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