As the Cal men’s golf team competes in its last regular season tournament of the year, the Bears are anxious to test their abilities one final time before setting a final roster for the Pac-12 Championships.
The Western Intercollegiate tournament, which runs Saturday and Sunday in Santa Cruz, Calif., consists of a 14-team field, including five of the top six teams in the Pac-12 conference
The competition for the No. 5 Bears will not end with their Pac-12 opponents. The Bears will be facing No.1 Texas for the third time this season.
Cal coach Steve Desimone is also excited to put his squad to the test against the toughest field of teams that they will see all year. The field is one of the most competitive of any collegiate tournament in the nation.
“We’re not hiding from anybody,” Desimone said. “We’ve been chasing (the Longhorns) all year. This is shaping up to be one of the best college events in a long time.”
The tournament will take place at Pasatiempo Golf Club, which is renowned for its world class course
“It’s one of the best venues in college golf,” Desimone said. “The course matches our style of play very well.”
The 6,497-yard, Par 70 course fits into the way Cal plays very well. Juniors Brandon Hagy and Max Homa have strong drives, while freshman Michael Kim and sophomore Joël Stalter tend to keep the ball in play, which will be valuable on this straight coarse. Kim’s improved short game, along with Homa’s consistently strong putting, should help the Bears down the stretch.
Desimone will look at his team’s performance this weekend before deciding which six golfers will play at the Pac-12 championship in two weeks. Homa, Kim, Hagy and Stalter will likely be the top four, with the final two spots to be split amongst senior Jeff Hamm, junior Pace Johnson, and freshman Keelan Kilpatrick.
“Keelan didn’t play well at ASU,” Desimone said, “but he’s had that fifth spot all spring which has contributed to our success. Pace and Jeff, if they’ve been a step behind, it’s only been a quarter step. They’re competing for the final two spots.”
Hamm and Johnson have been battling for playing time all year. Kilpatrick was ineligible last semester, as a transfer student from New Zealand, but has joined in the chase this spring.
Desimone’s team, already the winningest in school history, is ready to add to their achievements. After winning the ASU Thunderbird Invitational last week for its fourth tournament win of the year, the team is prepared for success in Santa Cruz this weekend.
“If we hit the ball well, if our guys bring the games they’ve had all year, we will be very competitive,” Desimone said. “If we do that, we will be in a position to win it on the back nine on Sunday.”