The Cal men’s golf team has been anticipating the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational all season.
It was to be the squad’s most competitive tournament of the fall, the pinnacle of the last few months.
And while the Bears anticipated the first-rate competition, the result was a fitting end to a fall season that exceeded expectations.
Cal tied for fourth at the conclusion of Tuesday’s prestigious event held annually in Windermere, Fla. Between the tough course and the tough competition, fourth place was no easy feat, and the Bears were satisfied with the result.
The title went to No. 1 Texas, who blazed ahead of the competition to beat second-place LSU by 26 strokes. The Bears tied Indiana for fourth place, two strokes behind third place North Florida and 32 strokes behind the Longhorns.
“The names on the leader boards are consistently the best teams in the country every year,” redshirt sophomore Brandon Hagy said. “We came into the tournament ranked in the top 10, and this was a chance for us to show that we deserve that ranking.”
The tournament is one of the best in the nation, and this year’s field featured seven of the nation’s top 20 teams. Cal was one of those teams, after skyrocketing from No. 19 to No. 10 following last week’s win at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational. The Bears did not come into the fall season highly ranked, but will surely leave as such. The team has two wins, as well as a fourth and fifth place finish this year.
“It’s nice to be ranked high, but our main goal is to play well at the end of the season,” Hagy said.
The Bears finished the first round on Sunday in fifth place, and then fell one spot to sixth after the second round on Monday. After a slow start in the third round, the Bears dominated the back nine, ultimately rising to fourth place to finish.
Hagy led Cal through the first two rounds, entering the third round tied for fifth. He had a tougher third round, however, and fell to finish 16th individually. Freshman Michael Kim stepped up to lead the Bears in the final round, resulting in an eighth place individual finish 14 strokes off the leader after starting the day in 14thplace. This finish wraps up a stellar fall season for Kim, who placed in the top 10 individual finishers in three of the team’s four events.
“I think the key point is that this was a solid team effort,” said coach Steve Desimone. “It has been very impressive, when one guy is struggling his teammates pick him up- that is the mark of a good team.”
With the fall now behind them, the Bears already have their sights set on the spring season. While the fall is important for building up rankings and gaining experience, it is the spring season that is crucial for the team’s championship aims.
“It is always great to end the fall on a positive note,” Desimone said. “Even though there is some time off, it gives the guys extra motivation to work harder on the way to a championship. We are clearly in that picture now and it is great to be there at the end of the fall.”