Despite sitting 12 strokes back of No. 6 Texas after day one, No. 21 Cal men’s golf managed to cut the deficit to five strokes and earn second place at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate.
The Bears competed against 17 teams for 54 grueling holes at Wailua Golf Course in Lihue, Hawaii and tallied a score of 849(-15).
“We did a lot of things right. We struck our irons well and we putted well too,” said Cal head coach Steve Desimone. “We got off to a slow start though. Even though we were in second place, we didn’t play that well in the first round. We then settled down in the second round and played some of our best golf of the year.”
Sophomore KK Limbhasut set the pace for the Bears and the rest of the field. Limbhaust’s three day total of 210(-6) earned him a share of individual medal honors with Beau Hossler and Gavin Hall of Texas and Skye Inakoshi of Hawaii. On a windy Wednesday, Limbhasut started the tournament off at a solid -1. He then tore up the course Thursday firing a 66(-6) that propelled him to a three-stroke lead entering the final round.
“I was pretty steady all tournament long. I didn’t hit many shots in trouble. I didn’t hit any in the water,” Limbhasut said. “It was very windy the first two rounds, so hitting the fairways helped me make birdies.”
Limbhasut, however, lost his lead on the field quickly Friday, making four straight bogeys on the front nine. Coming off the turn, he settled down and birdied three holes on the back nine, which clinched him a share of the individual title.
Following Limbhasut came senior Shotaro Ban. Ban finished the three rounds at -3. He shot even par Wednesday and then fired a 68(-4) Thursday. He couldn’t gain any additional ground Friday, however, as he shot a 73(+1).
“I was trying to stay around even par on Wednesday. It was really windy,” Ban said. “I didn’t want the tournament to get away from me. I didn’t want to get too aggressive. I got a little careless in the end. Texas played really well. There wasn’t much we could all do.”
The team checked the forecast earlier in the week and saw that it would be rainy and cold at Wailua. In order to prepare, the team worked on hitting lower shots to avoid the wind and better control the golf ball.
“You always expect beautiful weather and everything will be tranquil,” Desimone said. “There was a lot of rain combined with 40 to 45 mile per hour winds. The wind died down on Friday and things were calmer. The course was in great shape. It had been fairly dry leading in. The greens were the best we’ve seen in Hawaii for the last five or six years.”
Alex Heuer covers men’s golf. Contact him at [email protected]