Cal men’s golf is heading to the Arnold Palmer-designed Isleworth Golf & Country Club, known for being one of the toughest and longest golf courses in the country, in Florida to play in the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational from Oct. 16 to Oct. 18. It is widely regarded as one of college golf’s major championships.
The invitational is hosting some of the strongest teams in the country, including Arizona State, which just won the Alister MacKenzie Invitational on Tuesday — the same tournament in which Cal placed eighth. No. 23 Texas Tech, which just took third at the Paintbrush Intercollegiate, No. 20 North Carolina, which held second at the Tar Heels Intercollegiate until the third round was canceled because of bad weather, No. 9 Vanderbilt, which won the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational and No. 8 Florida, which clinched second in the same tournament, the Nike Golf Collegiate Invitational, will also be competing.
And to make matters worse for the Bears, the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational is also hosting No. 1 Illinois, which has won three tournaments this season, the most recent of which was the Northern Invitational, where the Fighting Illini completely shut out the rest of the competition. Illinois beat the other teams by at least 53 strokes; while Illinois scored 845 (-7), Indiana, which won second place in the tournament, scored 898 (+46).
In another stroke of bad luck for Cal, sophomore Collin Morikawa, the Bears’ star player this season, will be unable to make the Invitational, as he is currently making his PGA Tour debut as an amateur in the Safeway Open. Morikawa and redshirt sophomore Ben Doyle are Cal’s only saving graces in the short game, and without Morikawa, the Bears will have their work cut out for them.
Cal is currently ranked No. 25, but after a string of disappointing eighth place finishes, the team may very well drop from the rankings, giving way to teams like Arizona State, which may take the Bears’ place after the Sun Devils’ victory Tuesday. If Cal has any hope of staying on the board, it has to perform incredibly well at the Invitational, something that the Bears have not been doing recently.
The competition at the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational is more rigorous than the Bears have faced all season. Many of the best college golf teams in the country will be playing in this tournament, and every single team will either be looking to move up, or, at least in Illinois’ case, maintain their standing. Cal’s precarious position as the last spot on the board makes it extremely vulnerable.
The Bears are new and inexperienced, but maybe that’s exactly what Cal needs — a little bit of Maverick spirit and a lot of beginner’s luck. Fourth time’s the charm, right?
Maya Rao covers men’s golf. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org