Bruins move on without Alison Lee

UCLA was No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Women’s College Golf Rankings in the final poll of the Fall Season, but will have to make up for losing Alison Lee  in the Spring Season if the Bruins are to challenge for the NCAA Championship.

Lee, the 2014 NCAA Player of the Year and winner of the first Annika Award as the top college golfer, said she would turn pro if she earned her LPGA Tour card, and the sophomore from Valencia did that in style by sharing medalist honors in the LPGA Qualifying Tournament at the beginning of December.

“The team will definitely change during the spring, but honestly we can’t put too much pressure on ourselves in order to compensate for Alison’s loss, and we’ll all need to play our own game,” UCLA senior Erynne Lee (pictured) said.

Said Alison Lee: “I have a lot of mixed emotions. When I made my par putt (on the final hole of Q-school) and realized I got my LPGA Tour card, I was just filled with joy. When I got off (the green) and thought about what it meant to be professional, I thought about my team and my school and my coaches, and it made me sad.”

Alison Lee claimed four individual victories in a season and a half for the Bruins, including the 2014 Pacific 12 Conference title.

The task for Coach Carrie Forsyth’s Bruins was made a bit easier when senior SooBin Kim, No. 1 ahead of Alison Lee in the Fall college rankings, and freshman Jing Yan of top-ranked Washington also earned their LPGA Tour cards and turned pro.

In addition to Erynne Lee, UCLA will need continued strong play from Bronte Law of England, who captured the Stanford Intercollegiate in October, sophomore Louise Ridderstrom of Sweden and freshmen Lydia Choi of Beverly Hills and Erin Choi of Torrance.

Fifth-ranked Stanford is led by junior Mariah Stackhouse and Lauren Kim of Los Altos, who are both ranked in the top 20 by Golfweek, but also has depth with freshman Shannon Aubert and sophomore Casey Danielson.

USC, which came within two strokes of winning the NCAA title last year before falling to Duke, is ranked sixth in the nation with an eye on moving toward the top behind a veteran crew that includes senior Doris Chen, junior Annie Park and junior Kyung Kim, all in the top 20 of the Golfweek rankings, plus sophomore Karen Chung. The Trojans won twice in the Fall Season.

Pepperdine is barely on the outside of the Golfweek top 10 at No. 12, led by junior Marissa Chow, who is sixth in the rankings, freshman Tatiana Wijaya of Indonesia, senior Alina Ching and senior Somin Lee.

Cal is led by junior Hannah Suh of San Jose and sophomore Lucia Gutierrez  of Peru, while UC Davis has a strong threesome with junior Andrea Wong of San Francisco, sophomore Paige Lee of Folsom and senior Blair Lewis of La Mesa.

Other players to keep an eye on during the Spring season are junior Emma Henrickson of Sweden for San Diego State, senior Madchen Ly of Fresno State and nearby Clovis, senior Megan Osland of Canada and San Jose State, and senior Savannah Vilaubi of Downey and UC Riverside.

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