The last week has been full of excitement for the Cal men’s golf team. After winning the John A. Burns Intercollegiate Tournament last week in Hawaii, the team was met with more gratifying news: four golfers were accepted to the Haas School of Business.
The Bears will try to continue the string of exciting events as they participate Monday and Tuesday in the Del Walker Match Play Championship in Long Beach, Calif. A win at this competition — or in any tournament for the rest of the year — will break a school record for the most wins in a season. The Bears tied the record last week with their third win.
This week at the Virginia Country Club is only the second time in the history of the program that the team will play a match play style tournament.
Match play, like the name suggests, matches player against player as teams attempt to win the most individual holes. The teams will strive to win the most holes, rather than having the least number of strokes total. The style, which mirrors the NCAA semifinals and finals, was the way that golf was originally formatted.
In a tournament that will feature 18 teams, the Bears will start off in a battle with Oregon. The Ducks are ranked No. 10, just behind No. 9 Cal. The matchup with Oregon is just one of many potential competitive rounds at the tournament.
“You’ve got five of the best teams in the country competing with Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington and us,” said Coach Steve Desimone. “As a consequence, especially in match play, you will have some very intense matches and intense competition overall.”
The tournament might provide even more of a challenge as the Bears battle injury going into the competition.
“We don’t have a normal team,” Desimone said. “It should be a very competitive competition anyway.”
The biggest abnormality is the absence of freshman phenom Michael Kim. Kim had an accident that involved dropping a weight on his foot late in the week. The injury left him limping, and Desimone thought it would be best to replace him in the lineup.
In Kim’s place will be senior Jeff Hamm, who will be accompanied on the roster by juniors Pace Johnson and Max Homa, as well as redshirt sophomore Brandon Hagy and sophomore Joël Stalter.
The setbacks in the team’s roster don’t have its coach worried. Desimone, who has been with the team for 33 years, still has confidence in his squad.
“We’ve passed a lot of tests so far this year, but this is a new one,” said Desimone. “We’ve certainly beaten some of the top-10 teams in the country, but we haven’t seen all that much of the conference.”