The built-up frost of winter has melted into the fairways and putting greens. Cal men’s golf is back.
The Bears enter the spring campaign ranked 16th in the nation. Three conference foes sit ahead of Cal with Stanford ranked fifth, USC ranked seventh and Arizona State ranked 10th.
The Bears will hit the ground running this weekend as the squad travels to Tucson, Arizona to compete in the Arizona Intercollegiate at the Sewailo Golf Club. The 16-team field will play 36 holes Friday and a final 18 holes Saturday. Last year, Cal finished tied for fourth at Sewailo, with then junior Shotaro Ban leading the way for the Bears. Ban finished tied for third individually at -4 stringing together two 70s (-1) and a 69 (-2).
En route to the conference and NCAA Championships in April and May, the Bears will travel to Las Vegas, Hawaii and even Mexico. Competing against elite programs week in and week out, the squad understands the importance of consistency performing at a high level.
“It’s all going to come down to consistency. We showed a great glimpse of that last fall. It was great to show that we know we can compete,” said freshman Collin Morikawa. “We need to stay consistent throughout the whole year if we want to contend for a national championship.”
Not getting caught up in high-pressure moments will be critical considering the youth of the team. Outside of Ban and junior Walker Huddy, the starting lineups will most likely include two sophomores, KK Limbhasut and Sebastian Crampton, and two freshmen, Morikawa and Jamie Cheatham.
“Experience is always critical. The younger guys are learning how to play. They need to get repetition and practice, which allows players to grow. We’re clearly one of the youngest teams in the top 20,” Desimone said. “There’s a huge upside for us this spring. We also believe that competition will push each guy as we go through the spring. As we look to April, May and June, we need to ensure that we continue to progress in the way these guys have done.”
Since the fall season ended in late October, all golfer worked hard over the offseason to improve their game. The team acknowledges short game as a major issue across the board. Moreover, the Bears sought to improve their physical conditioning. The squad attributes their late-round debacles to a lack of strength and conditioning. The Bears hope they can cut physical issues out of the equation this spring. This will help the team achieve its ultimate goal: competing at the Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Oregon from May 27 to June 1 with a National Championship on the line.
“We missed the NCAA Championship by a shot last year,” Desimone said. “This team is better than last year. I tell the guys that match play is the goal and once we’re there, anything can happen.”
Alex Heuer covers men’s golf. Contact him at [email protected]