In what Cal men’s golf head coach Walter Chun described as “winning the lottery twice,” redshirt freshman William Aldred shot two holes-in-one at the San Jose State-hosted Western Intercollegiate this past weekend. But despite even Aldred’s miraculous performance, he could not save the Bears, as Cal ended up in 13th place in its last regular-season tournament.
The Bears started near the bottom of the pack after the first round, placing 13th with a 373 (+23), one of their worst opening rounds this season. Middling or high scores from all players stymied Cal’s chances for a higher placement — the best opening-round score was sophomore Collin Morikawa’s 73 (+3).
Cal’s second round went slightly better — the team shot a 368 (+18) and was tied for 10th. Freshman Finigan Tilly shot a 71 (+1), the best score of the round, while freshman Devin Hua was on Tilly’s heels with a 72 (+2). Sophomore Tanner Hughes shot a middling 73 (+3), while Morikawa shot a 75 (+5). Redshirt sophomore Ben Doyle placed lower still, with a 77 (+7).
Perhaps the only bright light in the Bears’ second-round performance was Aldred’s first hole-in-one of the tournament.
“Honestly, when that first one went in I was just really happy that I’d hit a good shot and that I’d been rewarded for it,” Aldred said in an email. “I hadn’t been striking it well earlier that round and so it was great to get a couple of shots back on the course.”
But even Aldred’s hole-in-one could not save his overall performance — he shot Cal’s highest score of the round, a 78 (+8).
The third round saw Cal slip back into 13th with a 369 (+19). Tilly and Morikawa both shot a 72 (+2) to tie for 30th and 44th place, respectively — Morikawa’s lowest individual placement of the season. Hughes shot a 74 (+4) to end up in 53rd.
Aldred surprised the crowd by shooting yet another hole-in-one in a tournament that saw five — two by Aldred, one by Washington’s Daniel List and one each by Pepperdine’s Hunter Epson and Robert Geibel.
“For someone to get two holes-in-one in a tournament is basically unheard of,” Aldred said in an email. “I can still see the exact flight of that shot, and how the ball bounced forward when it landed just left of the pin then took the slope back toward the hole.”
Aldred’s performance improved in the third round by shooting a 75 (+5) to tie for 79th. Hua shot a 76 (+6) for 78th, and Doyle ended up in 92nd with an 84 (+14).
The Western Intercollegiate hosted five ranked teams, including No. 1 USC, No. 5 Oregon, No. 14 Stanford, No. 16 Texas and No. 24 Arizona State. Considering how the Bears have performed against similarly ranked teams, expectations for a top-six placement going into the tournament were low.
The Bears have it in them to pull off truly extraordinary performances — evidenced by Morikawa’s two first-place finishes at the Southern Highlands Collegiate and the ASU Thunderbird Invitational or Aldred’s two holes-in-one in this tournament — but their collective skills don’t always translate into great overall performances.
“This season, on paper, it wasn’t the best for the program, but we all grew together as a group,” Chun said in an email. “We had highs and we had lows.”
Although 13th is a lower placement than the Bears would have liked in their last tournament, it does seem like a fitting end to a roller coaster of a regular season.
Maya Rao covers men’s golf. Contact her at [email protected]