Bears nab sixth tournament win to advance to Nationals

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The Cal men’s golf team finished right where it left off, winning the Stanford NCAA Regional in its first competition since garnering the Pac-12 championship crown two weeks ago. After smashing the school record of three wins on their way to the program’s first conference title, the Bears notched their sixth tournament win Saturday at the NCAA regional at the Stanford Golf Course in Stanford, Calif.

“We knew we were the No. 1 seed,” said freshman Michael Kim.  “But this was probably the toughest regional. We just wanted to get to Nationals, but getting our sixth win was the highlight.”

Kim did his part to help the team, finishing in a tie for fourth place with a score of -10. Junior Brandon Hagy continued to lead the team with an overall third place finish and a score of -11. Fellow junior Max Homa rounded out the top-10 with a score of -4.

The Bears finished six strokes ahead of their nearest competitor, San Diego State. The top five finishers advance to the NCAA Nationals, which will commence next Tuesday at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. The Bears and the Aztecs will be joined by Alabama-Birmingham, Stanford, and Central Florida as the representatives of the Stanford Regional at Nationals.

At Nationals, the Bears will face a 30-team field and will have to place in the top 8 in the preliminary round to qualify for the match play finals.

“We’re just trying to get to match play and see where we can go from there,” said Kim.

As the No. 2 team in the country, qualifying for the match play finals should not be much trouble for Cal. The Bears know that for all of their accomplishments this year, the goal is still a national title.

“Qualifying for the NCAAs has been our goal the entire season,” Hagy said. “We’ve played really well all year, but we still have unfinished business. We still want to go and play well at NCAAs, make match play and really prove to the rest of the country how good we are, and how good we’ll be in match play.”

If it does come down to the match play finals and the final eight teams, Cal is prepared. This season, the team competed in three match play competitions — two more than the team had previously played in its entire history.

Head Coach Steve Desimone is hesitant to say whether this year’s team is the best he has ever coached. After breaking the team wins record and winning the first conference title, all that is left is an NCAA title. Cal won its only national title in 2004.

“The key for all of us here is to understand where we are and how we’ve gotten here,” Desimone said.

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