BRADENTON, Fla. – UCLA survived the 54-hole cut Monday morning, and coach Carrie Forsyth couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. She didn’t want to, either.
“I’ve never been happier to come in 15th,” she said.
It’s been a trying spring for this Bruins team, and it came to a head this week at the NCAA Women's Championship.
They’re ranked third in the country, but frankly, that’s a bit ambitious. They lost their best player, Alison Lee, to the pros. They finished ninth at Arizona State’s tournament and fourth at Pac-12s. Heck, even Forsyth has been dinged up – she broke her right foot in a car accident in January and has been hobbling around in a walking boot ever since.
Here at Concession Golf Club, the Bruins opened with rounds of 319 and 318 and were 22nd in the 24-team field.
In the second round, one of the team’s best players, senior Erynne Lee, recorded a 13 on the par-4 eighth hole. She shot 50 on her inward nine, and UCLA counted three scores in the 80s.
“It wasn’t fun,” Forsyth said.
But during a third round played over two days, UCLA climbed the leaderboard and moved inside the bubble with a 5-over 293 – the second-best round of the week.
And Lee, who had struggled with her chipping over the past few months, redeemed herself by running off four birdies during an inward 32. An 18-shot improvement.
“I don’t think she even understands how monumental that is for her,” Forsyth said. “That takes so much strength she didn’t even know she had.”
And so, with four pars on the last, UCLA placed 15th and made the first cut at 66-over 930, one shot clear of UNLV and two ahead of No. 3 South Carolina.
Sure, the Bruins have much work to do to reach match play – they’re 16 shots back of Washington for the eighth spot – but on Monday morning, it mattered little.
“When you see them struggle so much on this course, emotionally, it takes a toll,” she said. “I’m just happy. For them. Because it just makes you feel like OK, your whole season just wasn’t a waste. I know we’re a long way from making the cut of eight, but we didn’t get bumped. And after the way we played the first two rounds, that’s a small miracle.”