After a two-week period of rest since its last competition, the Cal men’s golf team was back in action last weekend in the Goodwin Intercollegiate. The 54-hole tournament, which is named after Hall of Fame head coach Wally Goodwin, featured a playing field of 28 teams. The Washington Huskies took home the team title, scoring an impressive 818 (-22) shots. Cal finished in 15th place, having scored 844 (+4) shots across the three-day tournament.
“Stanford is such a tough course, a lot of our guys just didn’t have their A-game this week which led to our result. But I think everybody grinded, I don’t think that anybody gave up at any point during the tournament. You know, the result is nothing to be proud of but we’re proud of the way we handled ourselves on the golf course,” said sophomore Sampson Zheng.
Zheng reigned supreme for the Bears, coming in third place in the 147-player field. This was the best collegiate finish for the rising talent from Nagoya, Japan, before having finished only as high as 18th last fall in the Isleworth Collegiate. Zheng put on an impressive outing, scoring 66 (-4) shots consecutively in rounds one and two.
“You know with the season almost ending, this is a good motivation to push harder, to be able to get the job done, but at the same time it kind of proves I belong with the top guys all across the nation.” Zheng said.
Zheng posted his third and final impressive round of the tournament, carding a 67 (-3) to be propelled into the lead, before being overcome by eventual winner Peyton Callens of Nevada (65, 67, 65 – 197, -13).
Zheng produced the best overall scorecard for the team (66, 66, 67 – 199, -11) with the rest of the lineup, consisting of Finigan Tilly, Aaron Du, Tony Chen and Ethan Chung, having a difficult time at the Stanford Golf Course.
“I want to commend Sampson on his play. He went out and shot 11-under par through three rounds, and he still hung tough and that just shows how much Sampson’s grown as a player, how much he’s worked on his game — we needed it as a team, we needed him to play well and he stepped up for us,” said Alex and Marie Shipman Director of Men’s Golf Walter Chun.
Throughout the course of the tournament, Tilly struggled, shooting for 73 (+3) on day one, 75 (+5) on day two and 72 (+2) on day three, shooting a combined 220 (+10) and finishing lowest for the team at a tie for 111th.
Du and Chen finished at a tie for 88th. Du shot 73 (+3), 74 (+4) and 69 (-1) across the three rounds, while Chen shot 71 (+1), 73 (+3) and 72 (+2), both ending with a total of 216 (+6) shots. Chung would produce a tie for 65th with a scorecard of 71 (+1), 68 (-2) and 72 (+2).
“Obviously we would’ve liked to finish much higher up on the leaderboard, but it just takes time to get better and grow as a team and I firmly and confidently believe that we are developing as a team nicely. Maybe it isn’t going as quickly as fans would like but I know we’re getting better.” Chun said.
The tournament, which was a similar outing to the one in San Diego two weeks prior, hasn’t quelled the spirits of the Bears just yet. Cal will have another two weeks of rest before its next tournament in the form of the 75th Western Intercollegiate, which takes place from April 11 to April 13. Chun looks to tackle the issue of the team’s nerves in the reality of the tournaments.
“When it comes to qualifying and practice, the guys play very well but then when tournament time comes they get a little bit nervous, they get more aware of the trouble, so these next couple weeks we’re going to try to make them as uncomfortable as possible. This time put more pressure on qualifying as much as we can. We have to do some things to try and mimic tournament play, cause they’re playing great in qualifying and practicing, it’s just not transferring over into tournaments as well as we had hoped.” Chun said.
With just the Western Intercollegiate left on the calendar before the Pac-12 championships in Washington from April 25 to April 27, Cal looks to continue its upward trend of improvement to put itself in contention for championship glory.