Rising senior Shotaro Ban teed off Wednesday alongside three of his Cal men’s golf teammates at the 104th California Amateur Championship’s opening match play round, held at the Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, California.
In the end, Ban became the Bear who advanced the furthest, as he reached the tournament’s final on Saturday, when he comfortably outshot his opponent, Del Oro High rising senior Joshua Sedeno.
Ban displayed an impressive performance in the 36-hole championship match, and his collegiate golf experience seemed to play a role, as it proved to be too much for Sedeno to overcome. Ban’s lead never shrunk below one hold from the holes 3-31. Although both players shot birdies in the 32nd hole, this clinched the win for Ban. His lead was insurmountable at this point and he emerged victorious, 5 and 4, without having to play out the full 36 holes.
His championship run, however, was no walk in the park, as the tournament final may cause one to believe. Instead, it was a challenging ordeal, as he had to defeat two of his fellow Bears along the way.
In their round of 32 fixture, neither Ban nor his teammate Ben Doyle were able to take an early lead. Doyle, however, broke the deadlock in the eighth hole by shooting par, while Ban shot a double bogey. Doyle held a comfortable one-hole lead, but Ban retaliated with back-to-back birdies in the 16th and 17th holes. After the match became all square in the 18th hole, Ban shot par in the tie-breaking 19th hole to emerge victorious and advance.
Ban followed up his tough match against Doyle with his round of 16 fixture Thursday against yet another of his Cal teammates, Keelan Kilpatrick, who took a one-hole advantage in the fourth hole. Kilpatrick controlled most of their encounter until he shot a double bogey in the 17th hole. Ban shot par, which was enough to reduce his teammate’s two-hole lead to one. In the final 18th and 19th holes, Kilpatrick shot back-to-back bogeys, which allowed Ban, who shot par in both holes, to walk away victorious.
“This whole journey in match play has been tough and a real grind, especially with having to play two Cal guys,” Ban said to Cal Athletics on Friday.
Friday’s quarterfinal match against UC Irvine’s Pete Fernandez saw Ban display a more dominant performance than he showed against his Cal teammates. Ban maintained at least a one-hole lead from the sixth to 13th holes. The match became all square in the 17th hole, but Ban maintained his composure and shot a birdie in the 18th hole to outdo Fernandez, who shot par. The one-hole lead was enough for Ban to advance to the semifinal.
His final obstacle to reaching the final came in the semifinal Friday as he took on Stanford adversary Franklin Huang. Ban took the lead early in the match, but Huang made a breakthrough in the seventh hole by shooting a birdie to take a one-hole advantage. From there, it became a back-and-forth contest until the 14th hole, when Ban shot a birdie to take a one-hole lead. Ban maintained the one-hole advantage all the way to the end to defeat Huang and advance to the championship match, where he eventually got his name etched onto the Edward B. Tufts Trophy by defeating Sedeno to win the tournament.
“There are so many names on that trophy that have gone on to do great things,” Ban said to the Southern California Golf Association. “Hopefully this is a stepping stone for me, and I can build off of it and do bigger things in the future.”
Manny Flores is the assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].