The Bears are coming home to the Alister MacKenzie Invitational, which has been hosted by Cal men’s golf every year since the tournament’s inception in 2002. The invitational, named after famed golf course architect Alister MacKenzie whose designs span four continents, will be held in the MacKenzie-designed Meadow Club on Monday and Tuesday in Fairfax, California.
The invitational is hosting a group of very strong teams, such as No. 15 San Diego State, which placed second at the Gopher Invitational in early September — where Cal placed eighth — and first at its most recent tournament, the William H. Tucker Intercollegiate.
North Carolina State, which finished third at the Wolfpack Fall Intercollegiate, has strong individual players, including senior Jacob McBride, who tied for second at the Intercollegiate and freshman Benjamin Shipp, who tied for fifth. Even teams such as Arizona State, which was just recently dropped from the rankings, BYU and Michigan State pose a threat to Cal’s success at the Invitational — both received votes, but not enough to make the rankings; They are sure to be looking to get back on the board.
At the start of the season, Cal was ranked No. 11, but after finishing eighth at both of its tournaments this season, its ranking dropped to No. 25. The Bears are new, inexperienced and mostly underclassmen who haven’t played many collegiate tournaments, contributing to the disappointing middling finishes Cal has had this season. The Bears have relatively good players individually, but their performance as a team is still lacking.
Still, the Alister MacKenzie Invitational is Cal’s homecoming. This is its home tournament on one of its home courses in its home state. The Bears won the invitational last season, and they are looking for a repeat performance.
And to deliver that performance, the team is sure to point to sophomore Collin Morikawa, one of the best collegiate golf players in the world. Morikawa has posted decent scores at the last couple tournaments despite Cal’s relatively low placements and has managed to stay on or under par for most of the rounds this season.
If the Bears manage to work out the weak spots of their golf, mainly their short games — even though redshirt sophomore Ben Doyle and Morikawa have strong short games — they might have a shot at placing high or maybe even first at the Invitational.
The first round of the Alister MacKenzie Invitational will start at 8:15 a.m. Monday.
Maya Rao covers men’s golf. Contact her at email@example.com