With weather conditions that would drive even the mightiest of bears back to their dens, the Cal men’s golf team stayed true to its never-say-die attitude. The Bears (361, 364, 367, 354-1446, +26) closed out their 2021-22 season with a fifth-place finish in the Pac-12 championship, their best team finish this season.
“Our final exam was the Pac-12 championship, trying to apply everything that we’ve learned — hopefully the things that Coach Massoletti and I have preached would come to heart and to their credit, they stepped up to our final exam and this is our best finish in a year and a half, so I’m really proud of them,” said Cal head coach Walter Chun.
Ranked No. 9, hosting team Washington swept the tournament honors. They claimed the team championship (346, 360, 354, 362-1422, +2), becoming Pac-12 champions for the seventh time in school history, and its first in twelve years. The individual medal was claimed by Noah Woolsey (65, 71, 68, 72-276, -8), who edged out Stanford’s Barclay Brown by just one shot.
The Bears traveled to the Aldarra Golf Club in Washington with the same group that participated in the 75th Western Intercollegiate two weeks prior. The highest finishes for the team were produced by sophomores Sampson Zheng (71, 73, 73, 69-286, +2) and Aaron Du (72, 71, 70, 73-286, +2) at a tie for tenth.
As for the freshmen of the team, Tony Chen (75, 69, 76, 67-287, +3) finished at a tie for 18th, Ethan Chung (69, 78, 72, 74-293, +9) finished tied for 35th, Simon Kwon (76, 74, 76, 71-297, +13) tied for 50th and Charlie Berridge finished with sole possession of 67th place.
“Before the tournament started I told these guys that at some point in their career on this team they’re going to have to either finish in the top five when they’re in regionals to advance to the NCAA Championship. They kept their poise and they kept themselves within striking distance of that top five goal, so I’m super proud of them,” Chun said.
The weather certainly played a factor in the Bears’ performance in Washington. However, producing the best team finish this season in these conditions is a fitting way to showcase the grit that the team has carried with them throughout the year. The weather noticeably influenced scores in all parts of the leaderboard, seeing Washington edging out Stanford by just three strokes, or seeing UCLA overcome Southern California by two strokes. It created another layer of thrill and excitement to the tournament.
“We had a little bit of everything, but that’s to be expected coming up to Seattle and it’s really good for the players to handle adversity in adverse conditions.” Chun said,
With the book on the 2021-22 campaign now closed, the Bears will enter hibernation for the summer, but they will also use the time to continue to hone their skills for the seasons to come. It is also a period for them to reflect on the work they have done throughout this season and how they will use it to continue developing themselves into a championship-contending team.
“The future’s bright with the program. We had four freshmen and two sophomores competing, and they finished fifth here in one of the strongest golf conferences in the country. They’ve got a good handle on what they need to do to get better. The sky’s the limit for these guys, it’s just a matter of them staying hungry and still learning,” Chun said.
For the Cal men’s golf team, it isn’t a season that was lost or a season that should be considered disappointing. It was a season full of hope, learning and growth. It taught the young men valuable lessons that will only further their craft and see this team into a brighter future.