After nearly three weeks since their last outing at the Collegiate Invitational, the Bears are gearing up for their next tournament on the spring calendar — the Causeway Invitational, co-hosted by the UC Davis Aggies and the Sacramento State Hornets.
The 54-hole tournament will be played across two days, Feb. 27 and 28. The recently renamed tournament will feature a 12-school field, but 13 teams will be participating. Cal is bringing two squads along to Sacramento, as well as an individual, paving the way for every member of the team to participate in the tournament.
The 2022 edition of the tournament saw a lockout by No. 1 Stanford. The Cardinal claimed the team medal by 45 strokes, while then-sophomore Rachel Heck claimed the individual title over teammate Rose Zhang. Cal finished in a tough eighth place, while its highest individual finish came from then-sophomore Mika Jin. This time around, however, we are guaranteed new winners as the Cardinal will not be playing in the Invitational.
“We’re really excited that we can have our entire team in the field. We get to have an A team, which we call ‘Blue’ and a B team our ‘Gold’ and an individual, so everybody gets an opportunity, which in a tournament situation is premium for going forward in the season. We get to see how people are doing in a tournament situation and that’s huge.” said head coach Nancy McDaniel.
Cal’s blue team will feature junior Cristina Ochoa, graduate student Annika Borrelli, freshman Olivia Lee, junior Mika Jin and senior Tzu-Yi Chang. Ochoa and Jin were in the Cal lineup in last year’s edition of the tournament, while Chang participated individually. Lee will be making her first appearance in a team lineup this season; she had first competed individually at the Olympic Club Invitational.
Cal’s gold team will feature sophomore Kaylyn Noh, senior Jasmine Lew, freshman Adora Liu, senior Kristine Tran and sophomore Jieming Yang. Freshman Anna Molloy will be playing individually in the tournament. Lew and Tran were also a part of the Cal lineup at last year’s tournament. Tran and Molloy will be making their season debuts in the lineup and individually, respectively.
With all members of the team participating, it provides a unique opportunity for all the women to gain valuable tournament experience and continue building on their goals for this season.
“Having the entire team together is really cool. We don’t, as a team, ever get to travel with all eleven people so to have that camaraderie and support amongst one another, we’re really looking forward to that,” McDaniel said.
The Causeway Invitational will be the first of two consecutive tournaments played in California, both not even a flight away from bear territory. This will allow for more preparation for the team in its own facilities, also allowing preparation for similar weather conditions. Current forecasts have a 100% chance of rain in Sacramento come Monday morning, so practicing in cold conditions could put the Bears on the right track.
The Bears have 11 opportunities to take control of their own destiny as the season progresses. They currently will be the highest-ranked team participating in the tournament, at No. 42 nationally. With two squads, there is also going to be room for friendly competition.
“I just think it’s going to be really fun because our A team and B team, I would say we have quality players one to 11, so it’s going to be really fun to get even the inter-squad competitiveness going there and that will drive our motivation as well,” McDaniel said.
The Bears are heating up in this winter storm; they are prepared to come on to the fairway and dominate. The pieces are there — they just need to solve the puzzle.