March 16, 2009

Courtesy of UCLA Athletics

The UCLA women's golf team, led by freshman Stephanie Kono, swept team and individual honors Tuesday at the UCF Challenge, hosted at RedTail Golf Club in Sorrento, Fla.

The Bruins won their sixth event of the season in seven starts. They are one victory shy of the school record set in the national championship season of 2004, and the title at RedTail was their second straight since winning the Wildcat Invitational last month. Coach Carrie Forsyth recorded the 31st team title in her 10-year reign.

"We're beginning to putt well," said Forsyth. "The girls made some putts today and we scored well."

Entering the final round, UCLA trailed Arizona State by one shot. The Bruins posted a seven-under par round of 281 to leave the Sun Devils reeling. The Bruins' 54-hole total of 850 was 14-under par and beat ASU, ranked No.1 in two of the three major polls, by seven strokes. Oklahoma State placed third at 861 (-3), USC was fourth at 872 (+8) and Auburn finished fifth at 874 (+10).

"We played well. The players were really poised and did a great job of controlling their emotions," said Forsyth. "We've got incredible depth."

The Bruins won this tournament without three-time All-American Tiffany Joh, ranked 14th in the country.

In the final round, Kono, a graduate of Honolulu's Punahou High, stepped up and fired a six-under par 66. She vaulted from 12th place to first by making seven birdies, including four on her last seven holes. Her three-round score of 208 (-8) won by a stroke over Florida's Jessica Yadloczky, the leader for the first two rounds. The victory was the second of Kono's collegiate career, and the first in a 54-hole event. (She won the 36-hole medal play competition that preceded the draw in Collegiate Match Play Championship in November.)

The other Bruin players contributed as well. Junior Sydnee Michaels responded with a clutch two-under par 70 and tied for 28th at 219 (+3). Sophomore Glory Yang carded a cool 71 (-1) and tied for fourth at 211 (-5) and classmate Maria Jose Uribe tied for 10th at 214 (-2) following a round of 74 (+2). Senior Maiya Tanaka shot a 75 (+3) and tied for 49th at 222 (+6).

Playing as an individual, senior Ryann O'Toole finished 78th at 232 (+16).