Cal men’s golf finished eighth in the Maui Jim Collegiate with a score of 858 (+6) after a difficult first round and a middling second round ended its chances of placing high at the end of the tournament.
Cal had a disappointing first round, ending up tied for ninth place with unranked Georgia State; the Bears ended the round behind teams such as No. 24 Baylor, who placed second after the first round, and unranked Kent State, which placed first.
Redshirt sophomore Ben Doyle and sophomores Collin Morikawa and Tanner Hughes all shot even-par rounds and were tied for 37th place individually, while redshirt senior Walker Huddy finished the round with a score of 72 (+1), and redshirt junior Stephen Griggs finished the round with a 74 (+3).
Morikawa, currently ranked No. 3 in the Scratch Players World Amateur Ranking — the highest ranking of any American player — had five birdies in the first round but gained all five strokes back with a double bogey on the sixth hole and a triple bogey on the 13th hole. Doyle, who is known to have a good short game — something Cal generally lacks — had four birdies but made all four back with four bogeys. Hughes had five birdies, as well, but made them back with two bogeys and a triple bogey.
“Day one, we usually try to have a conservative game plan because we don’t really know the course that well … (but) maybe it was a little too conservative,” said head coach Walter Chun. “With a young team that’s inexperienced, I have to err on the side of being conservative … (but) they showed me a lot in the second and third round when I told them they could be a little more aggressive.”
Cal’s second round, indeed, went better. The Bears moved up to eighth place, still tied with Georgia State, and LSU nabbed the top spot by the end of day two. Doyle shot another even-par round, while Griggs posted a 70 (-1), Hughes a 77 (+6) and Huddy a 79 (+8). Morikawa stepped up his game, and he posted a score of 66 (-5), catapulting him from 37th place to 11th — he trailed the leader, LSU’s Luis Gagne, by just seven shots.
“Throughout the week, I just had moments here and there that were stretches of good golf and just had some bad breaks as well,” Morikawa said. “For me, individually, I thought it was a solid performance, especially the way my game was this entire week.”
Although the third round did not see Cal’s overall placement change, individually, the players moved up in rankings. Doyle shot up 14 places to a four-way tie for 23rd place, Hughes rose five places to tie for 65th and Huddy rose one place to 77th. Additionally, Cal redshirt freshman William Aldred competed as an individual, finishing tied for 48th place. And Morikawa rose two places to a four-way tie for ninth place with LSU’s Brandon Pierce, Kent State’s Chase Johnson and Georgia Tech’s Chris Petefish.
“I was three over par through nine, and I really just dug deep,” Morikawa said. “I had an eagle on the fifth hole (Sunday), and I was able to chip in for par on the last hole, too, so I saved my round and (shot) one under.”
Still, Morikawa said the team has “a lot of work” to do to improve this season.
“We’ve finished eighth in this tournament … and the first tournament (of) the season a couple weeks ago, so there’s … a lot to improve for us to do better and put ourselves in the winner’s circle,” Morikawa said. “We all want to win, but we’re a pretty inexperienced team this year, so there’s a lot to learn from each week that we play. I think if you just put all of it together, what we’ve learned in previous years, … I think we have a good chance of playing well and winning.”
Maya Rao covers men’s golf. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org