Cal men’s golf is going international.
The Bears are heading to Querencia, Mexico for the Arkansas-hosted Querencia Cabo Collegiate, held Feb. 26 to 28.
Cal placed fourth in this tournament last year, just behind top golf teams such as Georgia and Baylor. This year, the Bears will face both teams, now ranked No. 10 and No. 14, respectively, as well as No. 19 Duke, No. 18 Mississippi, No. 16 Texas, No. 11 Wake Forest, No. 6 Oklahoma State and No. 1 Vanderbilt.
Baylor, which Cal also faced in fall at the Maui Jim Collegiate, placed first at the All-American Intercollegiate, the same tournament in which Vanderbilt placed second. Duke, which has not yet played a tournament in the spring season, placed first at its last tournament in the fall, the Bridgestone Golf Collegiate, and Georgia placed second at the Puerto Rico Classic earlier this month.
But Oklahoma State and Texas tied for seventh at the Amer Ari Invitational, a very low placement for both ranked teams. Wake Forest and Mississippi placed even lower at tenth in their most recent tournaments, the Suntrust Gator Invite and the Puerto Rico Classic, respectively.
Half of the teams playing the Collegiate are ranked, two of them in the top 10; considering only the rankings of the teams, the difficulty of the tournament would seem on par with the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational, a tournament at which the Bears placed last in the fall. But considering the recent performances of the teams, Cal has a fighting chance of besting them. The Bears’ fifth place finish at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate — which also hosted a tough field of opponents — is higher than the placements of four out of the eight ranked teams playing the Querencia Cabo Collegiate.
The Querencia Cabo Collegiate, however, is also hosting 11 members of the Ben Hogan Award watch list — three golfers from Texas, two from Vanderbilt, two from Oklahoma State, one from Georgia, one from Wake Forest, one from Mississippi and one from Cal, sophomore Collin Morikawa— more than twice the number of members at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate and nearly half of the total watch list. The talent of the individual players in the tournament will certainly drive up the level of competition; despite the other teams’ relatively poor performances in recent tournaments, the Bears will have to play their best to place ahead of these golfers.
Still, the Bears have a lot of young talent on their team. Sophomore Tanner Hughes has had solid performances across both tournaments this season. Morikawa placed third overall at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate and placed second in the Querencia Cabo Intercollegiate last year. While redshirt freshman William Aldred’s performance has flip-flopped this season, his team-high 12th-place showing at the Arizona Intercollegiate has him primed to be the spring’s breakout star.
Cal has improved substantially since its disastrous fall season and is ready to take on a difficult tournament. The Bears must not let the seemingly extreme level of competition at the Querencia Cabo Intercollegiate shake them off their games. With strong individual performances, Cal can easily place high — perhaps even in the top three.
Maya Rao covers men’s golf. Contact her at [email protected]