It might have been fate that kept the Cal men’s golf team from a win this weekend at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters tournament in Las Vegas. The Bears entered the final day of the three-day tournament with a six-shot lead, but lost by a single shot to UNLV on Sunday, conceding the victory.
Had the Bears won the tournament, they would have secured their fourth victory of the season, breaking a school record of three, which has been tied each of the last two years. Steve Desimone, a veteran coach of 32 years, was at home recovering from a health-related issue and would have missed the milestone win.
The second-place finish is not something the team will likely be ashamed of, however. The Bears, ranked No. 10 entering the tournament, placed in front of nine other top-25 teams in the 15-team field. UCLA finished third, No. 1 Texas finished sixth and No. 3 Alabama tied for ninth place.
Associate head coach Steve Chun, who filled in for Desimone on the trip, was impressed with his team’s performance for more reasons than the teams that it outplayed.
“I’m proud that we had the belief to compete with some of the best teams in the country,” Chun said. “But we really didn’t think about who was behind us. We were here on a mission to play the best we could and our goal was to win it.”
Michael Kim struggled to return to form after missing a week of action due to a foot injury. The highly-touted freshman finished with a score of +10, the worst of any Cal golfer. Three birdies on the final day of competition helped him jump 11 spots on the leaderboard, but five bogeys and a double bogey certainly hurt Kim’s final round.
Like in recent weeks, the team was led by Max Homa. The junior scored an even par over the three days of play. He had the Bears’ best finish overall with a fourth-place individual outcome. Homa hopes his team will be driven by the close finish.
“It was really frustrating to lose by a single shot,” Homa said, “but we played great and it will make us stronger.”
Chun echoed his star golfer, suggesting that some of the Bears’ recent losses have been little more than bad luck.
“The disappointment will only add fuel to the first,” Chun said. “At some point, we’ll get the better end of the draw with the one shot losses and ties. It’s all going to pay off, somehow and someway.”
The always upbeat Desimone, although he was unable to witness the tournament, is looking forward what he hopes will be bright rest of the season.
“I’m tremendously proud of our guys,” Desimone said. “You can’t ask for more from a group of great guys like this. There are continued great days ahead, no doubt about it.”