This post was last updated May 18 at 12:02 p.m.
The Bruins were one final round away from both a team win and an individual victory.
No. 14 UCLA women’s golf found itself tied for the lead with eventual winner No. 10 Florida State after two days of play but ended up carding a 9-over 297 on the final day to finish 17 shots back of first at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional on Wednesday. Despite falling behind on the third day of play, the Bruins punched their ticket to the NCAA championships with their performance at the regional.
Coach Carrie Forsyth said it was ironic that the team played worse Wednesday despite the easier course conditions overall.
“The final round, everyone’s putter just went dead,” Forsyth said. “I don’t know why because the pins were a lot easier – maybe that was just a level of intensity.”
Going into the final day, junior Emma Spitz was leading the field by two strokes. Spitz was on the cusp of her second straight individual victory at the NCAA regionals before a closing 2-over 74 dropped her to a tie for third.
While the final round did not go the way she wanted, Spitz said she still felt like she played well minus some struggles with her putter.
“I was playing really well. I was hitting really good shots, but the greens were really tough,” Spitz said. “I started to get a little uncomfortable with my speed and I was a little nervous when I was putting. I got a little scared of hitting it too far past the hole that I became very defensive.”
Freshman Caroline Canales recorded her third top-10 finish in her last five events, carding a total of 2-over 218. Canales ended up finishing in a tie for sixth, her second-best finish of the season.
“Caroline is a true competitor,” Forsyth said. “She is a fighter. She doesn’t quit, she hits the ball quite well and she’s got a very good short game around the green.”
Canales would have finished the tournament one under par if not for a triple bogey on the 10th hole in the final round. An errant tee shot caused a lost ball and a penalty, dropping her three shots in one hole.
“It was kind of unfortunate because I thought that I had a good game plan, and I committed to hitting that club (the 3 wood) without thinking that it would cost me three shots,” Canales said.
Following Spitz and Canales were junior Emilie Paltrinieri and redshirt freshman Alessia Nobilio. Paltrinieri found herself in third place entering Wednesday before scoring a final-round 79, dropping her to a tie for 16th. Nobilio totaled a 15-over 231, good for a tie for 40th.
Rounding out the lineup were freshman Zoe Antoinette Campos and redshirt sophomore Ty Akabane. Campos shot a 4-over 76 on day one and a 7-over 79 on day two before being replaced by Akabane, who scored a 2-over 74 on the final day.
Despite her team’s final-round performance, Forsyth said the Bruins are feeling confident heading into nationals.
“I think we’re exactly where we need to be,” Forsyth said. “We’re peaking at the right time. We’ve got multiple players who are in contention and that’s what you have to have. The sum total of what we’ve been doing recently is really quite good.”
UCLA will tee off at the NCAA championships beginning Friday at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona.