The current Cal men’s golf team is perhaps the best that head coach Steve Desimone has seen.
The team set a school record this weekend with its fourth tournament win of the regular season with nearly two months to play. The Bears had never won four tournaments in a regular season until now.
The squad came up with the convincing victory at the ASU Thunderbird Invitational at the ASU Karsten Golf Course on Friday and Saturday. The win, the first at the tournament in school history, came over other top seeded competitors such as No. 2 UNLV and No. 4 Washington.
The No. 3 Bears played some of their best back nine holes of the season on Saturday, pulling ahead of late-rallying New Mexico and San Diego State to finish at a 17-under 835, eight strokes ahead of the next-place team.
“These guys have a way of pulling the trigger when they need to,” Desimone said. “When you get to the back nine, it could go either way and you may or may not pull it off.”
As much as a confidence boost this win was, it also gave Cal the fulfilling satisfaction of revenge. The squad beat two previous opponents that it had lost to by one stroke each: UNLV and Arizona.
Against Arizona at the end of January at the Arizona Intercollegiate, the Bears held a slight lead the whole match before the Wildcats took over in the final few holes. Then, early in March, the team held a one-stroke lead going into the final hole and lost, giving up two great chances.
“It was really nice to pull out the win like we did (on Saturday),” said junior Brandon Hagy. “Over the course of the year, we have gotten used to the feeling of playing in the last round and our experience definitely helped us get the win.”
The success is something the Bears have been expecting. This past weekend, all of the players executed to perfection and the Bears came away with a historic finish.
This weekend was largely important because it could provide an upswing to an already terrific season. Cal went through most of March with an injured squad, losing Michael Kim and Joel Stalter for parts of the month. This weekend, with the athletes back to 100 percent, the team dominated the field. Stalter and Hagy led the way, both finishing tied for third overall.
“When you look at our team going forward, I think we will be in good shape because we are going to be healthy now,” Desimone said. “With those guys back, we go from being a good team to a really great team.”
This squad has faced few problems so far because of its overall consistency and the way the coaches manage the game, emphasizing the importance of their own performance, not that of the opponents.
“In golf, you have your good days and you have your bad days, but with this team here we have not had a bad round all year,” Desimone said. “So looking ahead, I don’t see why we should be thinking about anything other than winning.”