It has been four years since the last time the No. 17 Cal women’s golf team was able to call itself conference champion. This week, the Bears have the opportunity to make that happen once again.
Cal will be hosting the 2016 Pac-12 Women’s Golf Championships, a three-day tournament taking place in Pleasanton, California. On the par-72, 54-hole course, the Bears will be looking for their third conference championship in program history. Previously, Cal was able to win its first conference title in 2003 when it was known as the Pac-10 Championship before the title in 2012.
“It’s an underlying current of excitement really, “ said Cal head coach Nancy McDaniel. “To be hosting at a familiar place and have two seniors from the Bay Area, it really is special.”
The tournament will take place at the Ruby Hill Golf Club where the Bears will go up against the best of the best including the top team in the country — UCLA — followed by No. 2 USC, No. 6 Stanford and No. 10 Arizona State. In total, nine of the 11 competing teams are ranked in the top 25. The Pac-12 is arguably the best conference in the country considering the lineup competing for the crown.
“We talked about Cal pride and representing well,” McDaniel said. “Not in a pressure packed way but in a grateful manner, how lucky we are to have this opportunity to play in the best conference in women’s golf.”
In last year’s competition, Cal featured no seniors in its lineup and finished 10th of 11 teams. A year later, Cal will not only have two seniors — Hannah Suh and Carly Childs — heading into the tournament but is also a strong contender to win it all. It would have been surprising to think the Bears would have a chance to win, even given the quality of opponents they will face. But Cal has a chance because of its stellar performances this season as the Bears have had a superb season for the most part, including three third-place finishes, a runner up and a victory at the Bay Area Classic.
“We have learned a lot over the year. Even from fall to spring, we have changed as a more disciplined team with our course management and how we view our shots and are able to let things go in order to be ready for the next one,” McDaniel said. “So, not only as shotmakers but as good golf thinkers, we have improved and continue to do so.”
Cal will start off its conference play in a pairing with Colorado on Monday and to get a strong start, the Bears will rely on the experience of Suh and Childs. Everything they have learned from the ups and downs of their careers that have led them up to this point will finally come to factor in their last postseason. They know that this it and they will have to display it all on the golf course in order to have a memorable ending.
Oscar Oxlaj covers women’s golf. Contact him at [email protected]