While this appears to be the first time a major Division I womens program has teed it up with the men, the ladies from L.A. werent looking for any special treatment. Thats a good thing, because they didnt receive any. Playing two courses over 7000 yards, the Bruins had all they could handle. After shaking off the nerves in Rd. 1, the scores over the final 36 holes were more than respectable, and in the end they beat seven mens teams in the process. Although their goal was to finish in the top 10, their presence in my opinion was a victory in itself.
I spoke with the players after each round, and was on the same flight to Oregon as we traveled together to the Womens Fall Preview. It was refreshing to hear them talk about the opportunity, and that they were welcomed by most of the men. While they had hoped to perform better, it was an upbeat tone wishing like all golfers do, to wonder what might have been if they saved a stroke here, or a stroke there.
This group didnt approach the week as if they were breaking a gender barrier, they simply attacked it like any tournament. UCLA senior and team leader Charlotte Mayorkas said it best when I asked her. Its still golf, no matter how you look at it. Whether you play a 600 yard par-5, or one thats 450, you still have to get the golf ball in the hole.
While I feel like this will not become a fixture in the college game, the timing and scenario was right for the UCLA women to make the most of this opportunity. It will be interesting to see how the team fares when they return to the normal length courses they usually play, and just how much they can chalk up to the experience. Any way you look at it, it shows how the college game continues to grow, and it will be a week five young ladies wont soon forget.
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