Bears round out fall season with 16th place finish at SEC/Pac-12 Challenge

In a fall season marred with inconsistency, the Cal women’s golf team finally was able to play three rounds of consistent golf. Unfortunately for the Bears, they were consistently high scores, leading the team to finish in 16th place at the SEC/Pac-12 Challenge in Knoxville, Tenn out of 24 teams.

Cal finished the first round in 11th place and fell to 13th after the second round. The tournament, which featured some of the top ranked teams in the country, was won by Alabama. The Crimson Tide finished with a score of one-over 865, ending with a four stroke lead over UCLA. The Bears finished at 37-over 901.

“I know 16th place sounds bad, but this is the toughest competition we’ll face all year,” coach Nancy McDaniel said. “So I wouldn’t say we are disappointed, I just think it’s time for the fall season to come to an end.”

Cal did not have any players in the top 20 of the tournament, but senior Joanne Lee was the team’s top scorer, finishing with a four-over 220, good for 24th place overall. No other Cal player finished in the top 50 of the tournament. McDaniel’s squad has had a very underwhelming first half of the season, something she attributes to the lack of rhythm her team has experienced in its play.

“So far, we haven’t gotten in to any type of groove,” McDaniel said. “In golf, you really have to get on a roll, and then everything starts falling into place.”

The team’s inconsistency and inability to close out rounds and tournaments have been large parts of its lack of success this season. McDaniel said her three seniors need to step up late in rounds.

Seniors Daniela Holmqvist, Emily Childs and Joanne Lee, who began the season strong, have cooled off from their hot start. The team needs them to show their leadership in the spring, when tournaments become more important and the National Championships roll around.

“I really thought the seniors would come to the party and show their leadership and experience this fall,” McDaniel said. “They’re three great players, and we need them to be our core.”

Although the seniors need to set the pace when the season restarts in February, McDaniel knows the lineup may be different at that point, given the way things have been going for the Bears.

The team will work on many of the players’ individual weaknesses, but there is one thing in specific that McDaniel wants to work on for everyone: putting.

“I really want us to be good putters, but we have over three months until our next tournament, so we may change things around because we can’t keep playing like this,” McDaniel said. “Right now, we are stuck in mediocrity.”