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BERKELEY'S NEWS • SEPTEMBER 23, 2023

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Cal men's golf places 8th in Pac-12 championship

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ANITA LIU | STAFF

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MAY 02, 2023

The sun was out and clouds were nowhere to be seen at Stanford this weekend as Cal took on the Pac-12 championship. The Bears played with grit and determination like they have all season, but they closed out the tournament with an eighth-place finish.

“The course showed its teeth today, and I’m proud of the guys. We didn’t get off to a good start again but they hung tough as usual and hung in there,” said head coach Walter Chun. “Eighth place isn’t great, but considering how we just didn’t hit the ball very well, the guys hung tough and it could’ve been worse.”

Host team No. 9 Stanford swept the tournament honors. Coming from behind in the third and fourth round, the Cardinal claimed their 12th conference championship — tying Arizona State for second-most in the Pac-12. Michael Thorbjornsen was able to stay ahead of Colorado’s Dylan McDermott in the final round to claim the individual medal by two strokes, the second win of his collegiate career.

The Bears brought their best lineup to Stanford in hopes of continuing to prove their resolve. In the six-man lineup, half of the players had previous experience in the Pac-12 championship with the Bears: juniors Sampson Zheng and Aaron Du and sophomore Simon Kwon.

Zheng would finish the tournament as the highest individual finisher for the team, adding to his stellar performance in 2023. He shot three under with his best scores in rounds two and three, placing in a tie for 10th.

Du would also show his prowess, finishing in a five-way tie for 15th. He jumped out to a strong start in round one, shooting six under par to place in a tie for third. Ultimately shooting five over across the next three rounds, Du was able to keep control of his swing until the end.

Kwon placed in a tie for 43rd. Although he faced adversity in his first and last rounds, he would shoot one under in rounds two and three, proof of his improvement across the season.

The new additions to the Bears roster this season faced an uphill battle in their first appearance at the Pac-12 championship but still posted respectable performances.

Freshmen Nathan Wang and Daniel Heo placed in ties for 47th and 50th, respectively. Wang was able to shoot his tournament best, even on Sunday when conditions were colder than the previous two days.

“I’m pretty proud of Nathan Wang, the way he finished the last two days. He birdied two of his last three today, two of his last three yesterday,” Chun said. “Sampson (Zheng) just continues to play well. He probably had his B-minus game and still finished tenth place. Aaron Du’s 64 — that backed up his good play at Pasatiempo.”

Heo’s tournament unraveled on the final day of play, but he kept his patience with the game and was able to limit the damage.

Rounding out the lineup for the Bears was junior Jeewon Park who placed in a tie for 53rd. He has been one of the mainstays in the lineup this season and his scorecard also fell victim to the cold conditions of Sunday morning. Park, however, kept control of his rounds with one and two over scores across the first three rounds.

“It was interesting that some of the guys have told me they’re playing better. The scores may not reflect it, but they know they’re playing better, and that’s always an encouraging thing moving forward,” Chun said. “I really tried to preach poise and patience for this championship, because it’s a long tournament — conditions were going to be tough — and I thought they were very poised and patient.”

The Bears have played strong golf all season long, and their hard work may be rewarded with a selection to an NCAA Regional in two weeks time. Their place will be determined by the NCAA Championships Selection Show this Wednesday on the GOLF channel at 10 a.m. The Bears will look to continue their quest for a second national championship in school history.

Contact Emmanuel Macedo at 

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MAY 02, 2023