Cal men’s golf certainly started off its spring season on the right foot. With two top-five finishes in fields that included top nationally ranked schools, it will now look to carry this momentum into its next tournament: the Lamkin San Diego Classic.
The 54-hole tournament hosted by San Diego State and the University of San Diego will span two days, March 6 and 7. 16 teams will participate in the tournament, with Cal already having faced seven of them across its past two tournaments.
“The four best-ranked teams are San Diego State, Colorado State, U-Dub (Washington) and BYU. Those are the teams ranked around the top-40, so those are the quote-unquote favorites, but we’ve beaten BYU at Arizona, we’ve beaten San Diego State in Hawaii. If we play well, if we play our games, we’ll stand a good chance Tuesday afternoon,” said head coach Walter Chun.
In the 2022 edition of the tournament, LSU secured both the team and individual medals. The Tigers finished with an eight-stroke lead despite a massive push from the then-No.8 Washington Huskies. Then-sophomore Nicholas Arcement secured the individual medal by two strokes over Noah Woolsey. Cal would finish in a tie for ninth, with its highest individual finish coming from then-graduate student Finigan Tilly, who also secured a tie for ninth.
The Tigers will not be making the trip to San Diego this season, meaning the title is ripe for the taking. The Bears will bring an experienced group to the tournament in hopes of keeping their hot streak going.
“There are some guys in the lineup that haven’t played earlier this spring like Tony (Chen) who’s recovering from a wrist injury. Simon (Kwon) hadn’t been in the lineup. But Simon and Ethan (Chung) played well in Hawaii, they played well in qualifying, so they’ve earned their spots in the lineup,” Chun said. “It’s got to be a collective effort — even though Sampson (Zheng) won out in Hawaii, we finished fourth, so you’ve got to be good one through five.”
Competing from the one slot will be junior Sampson Zheng. Playing in his seventh event for the blue and gold this season, Zheng is coming off his best tournament in his collegiate career after splitting the John Burns Intercollegiate in Hawaii. Zheng was named Pac-12 Men’s Golfer of the Week following his stellar outing.
Redshirt junior Costas Panay comes in at the two slot. This will be his fifth event for the Bears, having recently tied for 38th at the John Burns Intercollegiate.
Redshirt sophomore Tony Chen will tee off from the three slot. Chen will be playing in his first event for the blue and gold this spring, having last played in the Isleworth Collegiate in October. Chen placed in a tie for 72nd in last year’s edition of the Lamkin.
Sophomore Simon Kwon will play from the four spot. He will be playing in just his fourth event for Cal this season. In Hawaii, he finished in a tie for 38th while playing as an individual. Kwon joins Zheng and Chen as the players who featured in last year’s iteration of the tournament.
Rounding out the lineup will be redshirt sophomore Ethan Chung. Appearing in his fifth event this season, Chung last placed in a tie for 26th at the John Burns Intercollegiate.
Junior transfer Jeewon Park will be playing individually in San Diego. He has appeared in every event for Cal this season, but will be playing his first outside the team lineup. Park is coming off a tie for 67th in Hawaii.
The Bears have proven across their last two outings that they can hang with the top teams in the nation. They withstood the terrible recent weather in the Bay Area, and they will use that practice to capitalize on San Diego’s temperate conditions.