The vast expanse of green. The smooth fairways and the occasional bunkers. The drivers, the irons, the wedges and the putter. Golf season is finally here.
No. 11 Cal men’s golf team will get into the swing of things for the 2016-17 season, as it travels to Minnesota to participate in the Gopher Invitational tournament. The Bears will be up against a tough set of opponents, consisting of No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 20 Arkansas.
The golf program has seen a major change this year with former director, Steve Desimone, retiring and making way for longtime assistant coach, Walter Chun. This can be the start of a new era for Cal men’s golf, but at the same time bring in the sense of stability that a longtime coaching staff member brings.
The Bears had a decently successful 2015-16 season, as they finished second in the Pac-12 Championships. Players such as junior KK Limbhasut and sophomore Collin Morikawa made their mark with impressive showings in tournaments throughout the season and look to be the cornerstones that Cal can build around.
Sophomore Jamie Cheatham too will be looking forward to this season being his breakout one. Cheatham burst onto the stage in the NCAA Championships earlier this year, when he overturned a disappointing first day at the championships to catapult 90 places from 126th to 36th. Cheatham had also played a major role in spring success for Cal, as he had three top-30 finishes in the season.
Limbhasut was the star for Cal last year, and he will be looking to continue in the same vein this year, too. He has had 10 top-10 finishes in his Cal career so far and, during this summer, reached the Round of 16 at the USGA U.S. Amatuer Championship, along with Morikawa. Limbhasut’s strong short game and his control with the irons will be an asset for the Bears at the Gopher Invitational.
Cal had a very impressive showing at the tournament last year, with the team finishing second. Limbhasut and junior Sebastian Crampton led the way for Cal, with Crampton posting six birdies during the course of play. Limbhasut and Crampton both tied for sixth, along with two other players.
If the Cal players are able to replicate their forms from last year, they will stand a good chance of posting a strong performance. The improvement of Morikawa and Cheatham will be another boost for Cal’s chances this year. The Bears finished second, 21 strokes behind Oklahoma last year. But this year, that gap could be a lot smaller.