When a season turns from good to average, there is little optimism to be found. For the women’s golf team, dreaming big for the second half of the season may be the only thing it has left. To reach Nationals, the team will have to pull out all the stops, an effort that has truly been seen by the team only once this season.
The season started off far better than the rest of it would unfold. At the Ptarmigan Classic on Sept. 9 and 10, the Bears (291-296-286, 873) (+9) finished in first place after a weather delay on the first day of play created a break in the action. They achieved their result with both senior Nicola Rossler (73-71-69, 213) and sophomore Carly Childs (73-72-70, 215) finishing the last round under par. Rossler finished tied for second place at three under par. This effort, as well as additional superior play by the other members of the team, pushed the Bears to nine over par, in first place ahead of second-place Colorado, which ended the event 18 over par.
The surprising victory led to something the Bears hadn’t been able to claim since the beginning of 2012-13 season: a national ranking. Cal ranked as high as No. 17 in the GolfStat poll, and the new ranking seemed to be an indicator of things to come and a sign of a strong season.
The next tournament proved things were not as good as they had looked. The Bears (301-299-306, 906) (+42) ended the Edean Ihlandfelt Invitational in fifth place as a team, losing to two unranked opponents. Only two players from the team ended the event in the top 25, with Childs (76-75-72, 223) continuing her success in seventh place. Rossler (74-79-73, 226) did not see the same results in the second tournament, which resulted in her being ranked 22nd.
A tough schedule against high-ranked Pac-12 competition made the remaining tournaments of the season look like very unlikely victories for the Bears. The unranked Bears went into the Stanford Intercollegiate, from Oct. 25 to 27, expected to place near the middle of the group. There were no surprises. The Bears (292-289-297, 878) placed 10th against superior opponents such as USC and UCLA. Being 26 over par and having only one player rank in the top 25 showed the contrast between the beginning of the season and where Cal was then. Rossler (73-69-72, 214) finished the tournament tied for 16th place, while the next Bears player was sophomore Hannah Suh, who tied for 32nd place.
Cal ended their fall season with the Pac-12 preview in Kona, Hawaii, on Nov. 4 to 5. Once again, the Bears finished where expected, in eighth place. They shot 902 as a team and were 26 over par against very tough competition in a particularly difficult environment with both wind and a course they had never seen before. The team, however, was clearly outplayed. Only Rossler was in the top 25 once again, tied for 18th at one over par, with Childs improving from the previous tournament to tie for 28th at six over par.
The Bears still have half a season to play, so there is some optimism that they could return to their winning ways. They will play the same Pac-12 teams that are high-ranked, however, and the young and inexperienced Bears team will only have more challenges ahead.
Having only one senior on the team and a lack of consistency have proven to be challenges for Cal. The Bears will have to change that to improve. With half a season left to go, a turnaround will be necessary to reach the ultimate goal of getting to Nationals.
Alaina Getzenberg covers golf. Contact her at [email protected]