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Cal places 3rd in Western Intercollegiate

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APRIL 14, 2023

The Bears are looking to build some serious momentum heading into the final tournaments of the 2023 season. In its first of many back-to-back tournaments this past week, the Cal men’s golf team took on the Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz.

The tournament win was claimed by No. 8 Pepperdine, its second in three years. The Waves would break away during the second round and keep control of the lead. For the third year in a row, the individual title and blue jacket was also claimed by Pepperdine, with graduate student Derek Hitchner coming out just one stroke ahead of the second-place tie.

The Bears finished in an impressive third place standing, ahead of three schools ranked in the top 25, including No. 7 Stanford. Only the top three teams remained under par or even, and Cal was edged out by only seven strokes by second-place finisher Oregon.

On an already tough course where the eleven other schools finished over par, the Bears were able to keep their poise and produce a stellar performance. At one point, Cal was standing atop the leaderboards, before eventually dropping down two places.

The highest individual finish for the Bears came from Sampson Zheng, who finished in fifth, just three strokes out of first place. This is his third top-10 finish this season in a breakout year for the junior from Japan.

Joining Zheng as the only other Bear to finish the tournament under par was junior Aaron Du. He finished in a seven-way tie for sixth while shooting two under. Du was the driving force in the Bears’ hot start in round one, shooting seven under and sitting atop the leaderboards. Du became the third golfer to shoot a 63, tying the tournament’s 18-hole record.

Freshman Nathan Wang followed in a tie for 22nd. Wang shot a 67 during the second round, marking his lowest single-round score of his freshman season — his previous being a 68 in Arizona. While his other two rounds might not have been what were hoped for, there is certainly much to be seen from the young player.

Daniel Heo wasn’t far behind, finishing in a tie for 27th. He shot his lowest single-round score of 67 in the first round. Heo, like Wang, was able to show off his prowess on a tough course and will continue to work toward being a top player for the team.

Junior Jeewon Park finished in a tie for 34th. Also shooting a 67 in round one, Park added to the command that the Bears had over the rest of the field after the first day. He has been a staple in the Cal lineup all season, and he was able to keep control during the tournament.

Rounding out the lineup was sophomore Simon Kwon who finished in a tie for 48th. Kwon had a rather tough outing at the Western but was able to slightly recover, shooting one-under in the final round.

Redshirt-junior Costas Panay, who was playing as an individual, finished tied for 72nd. A tough second round is what derailed his scorecard, but a two-over in the final round showed that he was able to show command of the difficult conditions presented by the course.

While the Bears might’ve let their lead slip away quickly, their performance in the Western as a whole is a massive win as the postseason looms. They will have just one day to rest before taking on the El Macero Classic, just a short drive away in Davis. With only one tournament remaining on the schedule, Cal has the momentum necessary to build a strong push for a conference championship.

Contact Emmanuel Macedo at 


APRIL 14, 2023