Bears collapse after early lead at Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational

Leading by four strokes with six holes remaining on the final day of the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, the Cal women’s golf team seemed poised to win a third straight title at the Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash.

A few hours later, the Bears walked away from the course tied for third place with host Washington, finishing behind Oregon and Colorado, allowing a winnable tournament slip away against middling opponents. Not only did the Bears lose the tournament, they lost the progress they had been making in practice since their last tournament.

“We’re really disappointed with this,” coach Nancy McDaniel said. “We need to pick up our game because where we are right now, it is not very fun.”

Cal entered the final day of the tournament tied for first place with Colorado, but finished with a 36-over 900, four strokes back of the Buffaloes, who shot an 896. The third round of the tournament was the worst of the three for the team and for the players individually.

Each player on the team shot her worst or second worst round on the final day of the tournament, showing that the Bears need to improve their ability to finish strong.

“I thought the whole tournament was mediocre golf for us, but we really collapsed at the end there,” McDaniel said.

On the last hole of the tournament, three Cal players hit shots into the bunker, putting the team out of contention of winning the tournament.

Although the players and coaches were disappointed with the team’s performance and outcome, three Bears finished in the top 10 in individual scores. Joanne Lee, who led the Bears in scoring the first two rounds, came in fifth overall with a seven-over 223. Lee was fourth overall after two rounds, but ended up falling short to Cassy Isagawa of Oregon, Jennifer Yang of Washington, Alex Stewart of Colorado and winner Madeleine Sheils of Nebraska.

Emily Childs, the third place overall finisher at last year’s tournament, finished a stroke behind Lee at six-over par. Along with Lee and Childs, Nicola Roessler was the last of the Bears in the top 10, tying for eighth place.

McDaniel plans on working extensively on all aspects of the game, even one that Cal has been excelling in so far this season: putting and chipping. The short game at this tournament was subpar and McDaniel knows that it needs to improve. This is one of many parts of the game the team needs to work on, but all of these boil down to one thing.

“Practice. We need to keep practicing, practicing, and practicing,” McDaniel said. “We need to work on our game, of course, but we need to be more competitive at our practices.”

Practice will, indeed, be very important as time goes forward, since the Bears have a tough tournament coming up in the Pac-12/SEC Challenge in Knoxville, Tenn., on Oct 21-23.

“It’s only going to get harder from here on out,” McDaniel said. “But we want to go into tournaments playing confidently and closing out the right way.”