The 2015 spring campaign saw the rise and fall of the Cal women’s golf team. The roller coaster ride started with much promise, but the team came out empty handed as the season concluded.
The spring season got off to a solid start with a third place finish at the Peg Barnard Invitational. Seniors Hannah Suh and Carly Childs made their last few appearances for Cal and would open up the new year placing tied for sixth individually (71+72=143, +1). Their result, alongside junior Lucia Gutierrez (73-72=145, +3), was enough to start a streak of consistent performances.
This placement was followed by another third place finish at the Bruin Wave Invitational in which, once again, Suh and Gutierrez led the way. In the the three-day event, Suh shot one-under and two consecutive one-over par rounds. While Gutierrez would go on to score one-under, even and two-over par for a fifth place tie with Suh.
Cal’s consistency paid off in the third tournament of the year when it won the Bay Area Classic. Suh’s veteran presence came into play when she not only contributed to the Bears’ victory but won her first ever individual title. In this event, she shot under par in back-to-back rounds (71-69=140, -4) to lead a field of 68. Overshadowed by that performance was Marianne Li (74-69=143, -1) who also contributed to the win by placing fourth.
The Bears competed in match play for the first time this season during SDSU March Mayhem — a type of matchup the Bears were not accustomed to playing. This would prove itself on the course, as Cal, seeded at sixth, was upset by 11th-seeded Kansas, 2-3. It would go on to play in the consolation bracket, beating out Memphis (4-1), TCU (3.5-1.5) and Colorado (3-2) for a ninth place finish. Childs would be the one to pick up the team’s slack, winning all of her four individual matchups.
The downward spiral was just beginning as Cal uncharacteristically placed seventh of 18 in the team’s final regular season tournament, the Silverado Showdown. Both Gutierrez (77-70-74=221) and Li (73-73-75=221) placed in the top 20 — tied for 18th — but would be the only thing to take away from the Bears’ lackluster ending.
The postseason that originally seemed promising would only continue to disappoint. Finishing the Pac-12 season ninth of 11 was not the way the Bears pictured contending for a championship. But Cal had one more opportunity to have a memorable ending at the NCAA Regionals. All hopes were shattered when the Bears came one place shy (7th of 18th) of making it to the NCAA Championships.
Although Cal underwhelmed, there was a lot to be encouraged by, as Li was able to win the NCAA Regional. She advanced to the championships as an individual with the illusion of being crowned champion. In the opening three rounds of the national event, she tallied a 70-73-78=221 (+5), but it would not be enough to be in one of the necessary spots to advance.
Cal has a lot to look forward to with the uprising of its new standout player, Li, who has established herself as the new face of the program.
Oscar Oxlaj covers women’s golf. Contact him at [email protected]