Bears’ third victory is par for the course

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A beautiful view was not enough to distract the Cal men’s golf team last week in Oahu, Hawaii. The No. 10 Bears defeated an 18-team field in the three-day John A. Burns Intercollegiate tournament that came down to the final day of the competition.

The victory, the Bears’ third of the season, made it two consecutive seasons in which the Bears have won the tournament. The win also tied a team record for the most tournament wins in a single season, a record that has been matched in the both the previous two years.

The Wednesday through Friday tournament, held at the Turtle Bay Resort on a course designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer, was full of tough competition. Participating in the tournament were numerous top teams including, No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 14 UNLV, No. 17 Duke and No. 25 New Mexico.

The Bears also bested Arizona after falling to the Wildcats by a single stroke just a week before. The Wildcats finished the Hawaii tournament in tenth place, scoring 40 strokes higher than the Bears.

The Bears led after all three days of competition. Cal entered Friday, the final day of the tournament, with a four-stroke lead over second place SMU. Despite strong final pushes from Texas A&M, Duke, and UNLV, the Bears were able to hold on to their large lead. The Aggies, Blue Devils and Rebels were the only teams able to finish under par for the day, as the golfers battled winds that exceeded 30 miles per hour.

“Winning never gets old,” head coach Steve Desimone said. “It’s good to know we held steady and hung on.”

The Bears did just barely hang on, as the team shot an even par on the final day. Junior Max Homa led the team with a second overall finish on the leader board and an ending score of seven under par. Sophomore Joël Stalter tied for third overall at five under. The team finished with a final score of -17.

Freshman Michael Kim struggled despite high expectations from Desimone, finishing with a score of +5 and a spot at 35 on the individual leaderboard. Looked upon as one of the most promising amateurs in the country, Kim struggled on Thursday and Friday after a strong performance on the first day of competition. His two birdies were overshadowed by double bogies as he struggled on the par-72 course.

Cal’s next action will come in the form of match play Feb. 27-28 at the Del Walker Match Play Championship hosted by Long Beach State. Two of the next three competitions for the Bears will be in the match play format.

We’re heading into the meat of the schedule,” Desimone said. “Now it’s time to put things together and really have a good run.”