The Cal women’s golf season came to a close May 11, when it vied for a spot at the NCAA championships. Four out of the 12 teams competing in the regional tournament had the opportunity to move onto the championships; ultimately, those four teams were Baylor, Arizona State, Oklahoma State and Auburn. In the Stillwater Regional, Baylor took first place. The Bears placed tenth overall in the 12-team field.
At the beginning of the season, Mika Jin had an injured wrist, and was out for a while as a result. With a team composed of all healthy players, Cal was prepared to play injury-free at this regional.
Katherine Zhu and Jin, two strong Bears, are tied at a 74.1 scoring average and have each had three top-20 finishes this season. Zhu and Elena Arias had prior experience in the NCAA finals. Both knew what to expect since they had competed at the Auburn Regional in 2019.
Getting back to the timeline, on Monday, Cal placed eighth in the first round of the regional.
On the front nine on May 9, the Bears were at 8-over par, so this round was off to a good start. However, Cal finished the round at 24-over par. Baylor finished the round at 4-over par, placing them in first this day.
Out of the team, junior Tzu-Yi Chang and sophomore Cristina Ochoa had the best rounds on Monday. The former finished at 3-over par, the latter at 5-over par. Chang placed 15th individually as a result of this impressive performance.
On Tuesday, the second round of the regional, the Bears placed ninth.
Jin, whose name is usually a point of positive conversation, was one of 12 players to finish a round under-par, shooting at 1-under 71. Cal’s top scorer was Jin, who finished this regional in 16th place out of 58.
“Mika had a great round … she was really tenacious when things didn’t go exactly as planned. She was ready to fight,” said Cal head coach Nancy McDaniel in a press release.
Atypical from Berkeley weather, the Bears experienced 90-degree heat at this regional. They gained experience playing in more extreme weather conditions than they are used to in the breezy Bay Area.
“This is where you grow as a team. There are so many lessons learned at a regional championship,” said McDaniel.
A month ago, McDaniel mentioned that the team was “on track” to reach their goal of getting to the NCAA finals this year. However, this year, Cal women’s golf has no choice but to bid farewell to its goal: the championships.
The NCAA championships will take place in Scottsdale, Arizona from May 20-25 without Bear presence.
The team will look different next season without this year’s seniors and with new freshmen.