SoCal held no surprises for Cal women’s golf — no magical upsets, no come from behind underdog thrillers. Instead, the Bears finished the Bruin Wave Invitational tournament on Tuesday in Tarzana, Calif., where they were expected to: in seventh place behind six better-ranked teams.
The Bears finished the three-round, 54-hole event 49 over par, 50 strokes behind tournament winner No. 1 USC (296-277-290, -1). The top-ranked Trojans destroyed the 17-team competition, claiming the top-three individual finishes and seizing the victory over its Southern California rivals, No. 11 Pepperdine and No. 2 UCLA, who placed second and third, respectively.
“We didn’t play very solid today,” said head coach Nancy McDaniel. “The way we finished in general, we are not impressed.”
The Bears came out to the El Caballero Country Club on Monday morning to begin their first round of the tournament on an unfamiliar 6,173 yard, par-72 course that had suffered through a weekend of heavy rain and fog. In their first two rounds, the Bears struggled with long holes that played even longer due to the overgrown roughs and fairways.
“There was no roll so it played really long,” McDaniel said. “It can really get tiring … The first five holes are pretty long, and you can tell that in our scores. We had to figure out how to mentally and physically approach those holes.”
Throughout the first two rounds, the Bears performed poorly, recording more than 50 bogeys as a team including seven double bogeys. Recent top tournament performers freshman Lucia Gutierrez (79-76-74) and senior Nicola Rossler (74-76-82) struggled, both finishing well over par and placing 26th and 33rd individually.
The island of strength in a sea of mediocre play came in the form of Hannah Suh, who finished the event only two over par and tied for eighth individually. Suh’s strong performance earned the sophomore her third career top-10 finish and season best 54-hole score of 71-72-75.
“I’ve been working on my swing, on my game, for awhile now,” Suh said. “I feel like I’ve been going up and up and getting better. I just need to keep working on it.”
Suh capitalized in the back end of the course, scoring three consecutive birdies on the 10th, 11th and 12th holes in the third round and was headed to an even better individual finish in the top-five before a couple of tough bogeys in her last few holes derailed her chances.
“If I could have held it on there for the last few holes, I could have gone maybe top-four, so it was a little bit of a let down,” Suh said. “(But) overall I’m just really happy.”
Still Suh’s consistent play this week comes as a welcome sight for McDaniel, who is looking for more even, well-rounded team play going into the next couple of spring tournaments.
“Lucia (Gutierrez) played good at Stanford, Hannah (Suh) now, and Nico (Rossler) and Carly (Childs) had a really good fall,” McDaniel said. “It’s just a process of getting everyone on the same page at the same time … It’s important to have confidence in your teammates.”
Christine Menchaca covers women’s golf. Contact her at [email protected]