Cal men’s golf finishes 8th at Gopher Invitational

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It was a tough first round for the Cal men’s golf team, as it posted a score of 303 (+19) to sit tied for 13th. But golf is a game decided by more than just one round.

The players initially had troubles in adjusting to the course, but introspection can reap massive rewards. The Bears rallied in the second round to post the round-best score of 277 (-7) to come in, and they were sixth at the end of the day’s play. Redshirt sophomore Ben Doyle, redshirt senior Walker Huddy and sophomore Collin Morikawa all posted scores under the course par of 71 to get Cal back into the proceedings for the tournament.

The Bears finished second at the same tournament a year ago, and the second round blitz masterminded by the Cal trio raised hopes for the team on the second day of the tournament. That was not to be, however, as the Bears were unable to continue their strong performance and ultimately finished eighth, with defending champion Oklahoma once again finishing at the top.

While Morikawa was able to stay on par in the third round, the rest of the team dramatically trailed off, with Huddy going three over par for the round and Doyle and redshirt junior Stephen Griggs each posting scores of seven over par. Clayton Madey had an atrocious round of play as he finished a whopping 15 strokes over par.

Cal’s major failing was taking advantage of the par 3 holes, as the team stood 14th out of 15 teams in the par 3 standings. Collectively, the Bears were a combined 19 strokes over par and took an average of 3.32 shots to putt the ball in the hole. Cal’s only saving grace in the par 3 holes was Doyle, who is known to have a solid short game. Doyle finished a stroke over par on the par 3 holes, and his individual standing was tied for 13th on these holes. Morikawa also had a decent showing in these holes and finished 2 strokes over par.

Cal’s abundance of good long distance players, however, contributed to the team finishing seventh on the par 5 standings, and collectively finishing three strokes below par. Huddy, Morikawa and Doyle were all able to stay below par on these holes, while Madey, who had a weak showing throughout the tournament, was still able to stay a stroke over par.

The Bears happened to have a middling performance in the par 4 holes, and this contributed both to their comeback as well as to them tailing off on the final day. The presence of hazards near the sixth hole (465 yards) made it tough for every team to post good scores. SDSU, the best team on these holes, was 13 strokes over par. Overall, these holes harrowed every team in the tournament, as every team failed to come close to the par.

Cal did go into the tournament without the likes of junior KK Limbhasut, who was the team’s best player last year, as well as junior Sebastian Crampton. Both players starred in the tournament last year, and finished tied for sixth. Considering Cal’s struggles in the short game, they could have used Limbhasut’s skill set in short play.

All in all, it was not the best tournament for Cal, but the team’s performance in the long holes, as well as its drive and commitment to come back from a disappointing first round, was arguably exemplary. The season has just started, and there will be a number of tournaments for the team to show that it could be a force to reckon with.

Contact Devang Prasad at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @DevangPrasad.