The Cal men’s golf regular season has come to an end, with the Bears (374, 380, 362 — 1116, +66) placing seventh in the 75th Annual Western Intercollegiate. The tournament was bogged down by less than ideal weather, with all the participating teams struggling and producing over-par scores. The team championship was taken home by No. 9 Texas (371, 357, 347 — 1075, +25), its third win at the Western and first since 2015. The individual championship and blue jacket was once again claimed by No. 8 Pepperdine, with Dylan Menante (70, 72, 67 — 209, -1) taking the honors.
Even though the Bears finished in the middle of the field, this finish is the second time this spring that the Bears have outperformed No. 12 Stanford.
“We beat Stanford, so go Bears!” said Walter Chun, Alex and Marie Shipman director of men’s golf.
The Bears opted not to take veterans of the team to Pasatiempo, instead taking a younger approach to the tournament. The lineup consisted of two sophomores in Sampson Zheng and Aaron Du, and four freshmen in Ethan Chung, Tony Chen, Charlie Berridge and Simon Kwon.
“I compliment the guys, on a tough course they really kept their poise and for four freshmen and two sophomores to keep their poise on national TV on a difficult golf course, in very difficult conditions, they held their own and I’m pleased with how we finished.” Chun remarked.
Zheng (73, 76, 71 — 220, +10) and Kwon (72, 78, 70 — 220, +10) finished highest in the individual standings, tying for 24th in the tournament. Du, who’s been on a slump since winning the John Burns Intercollegiate, produced a tie for 36th (76, 74, 74 — 224, +14), his best since the Cabo Collegiate in February. Berridge, who’s playing in just his second tournament this spring for Cal, produced a tie for 51st (80, 74, 73 — 227, +17). Chung (77, 78, 74 — 229, +19) and Chen (76, 78, 75 — 229, +19) finished lowest for the team, producing a tie for 61st.
“Poise was a big thing, keeping their composure, that’s significantly improved and you could see it today, you could see it through the tournament. I told them that we’ve got to do the easier things better, and that’s just going to take time. It’s not the glitz and glamour of golf, but that’s where we just, as a whole, really need to improve. To coincide with that we have to improve our wedge game, and I think with a young team, I have their ear, as does Chris Massoletti and so I think it’ll resonate on what they need to do between now, the Pac-12’s and this summer.” Chun said.
The weather on Monday presented a difficult challenge for the Bears, but it was a challenge that Kwon was able to overcome. The round was highlighted by his valiant effort in producing five birdies on his way to a score of 72 (+2). The inspiration for this stellar round possibly came from the attendance of his grandfather, golf legend Johnny Miller. Zheng, who was still riding on his third place finish from the Goodwin, scored a 73 (+3). This was an impressive showing for the young men.
As for Du, Chung, Chen and Berridge, they struggled across the first and second rounds with some glimpses of life. However, the four, as well as Zheng and Kwon, all produced third rounds where the scores were better than the last two rounds. While it might not have been enough to produce a better individual finish, it is experience that the young men can take to the Pac-12 championship.
“As a whole I think they’re all meshing well, I think they’re practicing together a little bit harder, they’re practicing more competitively and so momentum wise, we beat some good teams, some good conference teams, so I hope they can build on that and work on what they need to to get ready for Pac-12s.” Chun said.
The Pac-12 championship will be hosted by No. 6 Washington at the Aldarra Golf Club on April 25-27. With this being the presumptive final tournament for the Bears this season, they hope to gain a good experience from it. However, if the Bears were to get a team win, they would advance to the NCAA Regionals in May. While this tournament might not have gone the way of the Bears, they still took valuable lessons from it, and hope to get back on the right track for next season.