Morikawa places 12th at NCAA Regional Championship

Fairfax, CA - OCTOBER 11, 2016: Cal Men's Golf During the Alister MacKenzie Invitational at the Meadow Club.
Eric Miller/Courtesy
Fairfax, CA - OCTOBER 11, 2016: Cal Men's Golf During the Alister MacKenzie Invitational at the Meadow Club.

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The Cal men’s golf season is officially over.

Sophomore Collin Morikawa, Cal’s star player this season, placed 12th overall at the NCAA regional championships Wednesday, falling just shy of the only individual NCAA championship spot, thus ending a rollercoaster of a season.

Morikawa was the team’s one bright spot amid the team’s disappointing performances as he earned two consecutive first-place finishes, including his first collegiate win.

In the first round, Morikawa canceled out bogeys on the 10th and 17th holes, as well as a double bogey on the 15th, with four birdies on the third, ninth, 11th and 16th holes, tying him for 17th place with a 70 (E) at the end of the round. This even-par round is somewhat uncharacteristic of Morikawa, who shoots well under par in most rounds.

The sophomore performed far better in the second round. He shot a bogey on the second hole, but birdies on the fifth, 14th and 16th holes and an eagle on the first hole, ending the round with a 66 (-4). As a result, Morikawa moved up 13 places to tie for fourth, just a few strokes shy of the lead.

At the end of the second round, Morikawa was in a very strong position for the sole NCAA championship spot, but the third round thwarted his plans.

Although Morikawa shot birdies on the first and seventh holes, bogeys on the ninth, 14th and 18th holes, as well as a triple bogey on the 17th, and he ended the final round of his season with a 74 (+4), one of his worst round performances this season.

Morikawa was just two strokes behind North Florida’s Travis Trace in the final two holes of the round, but was unable to capitalize on a birdie attempt on the 17th, thus tying him for 12th and allowing Trace to further advance.

Regionals hosted a competitive field — of note, No. 4 Stanford, No. 9 Baylor, No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 21 Georgia Tech — but Morikawa has faced, and defeated, players of such caliber before.

Earlier in the season, he placed first at the Southern Highlands Collegiate, which hosted seven top-ranked teams. Although the Bears ended up in 12th place, Morikawa showed that he could beat the best of the best in that tournament.

In regionals, however, Morikawa stumbled quite a bit, from his double bogey in the first round to his slew of bogeys, including a triple bogey, in the third. His inability to capitalize on a few opportunities led him to fall just short of the individual spot.

Regardless, Morikawa, who is ranked as the No. 5 collegiate golfer according to Golfstat, has a promising career ahead in collegiate golf. Veterans such as juniors KK Limbhasut and junior Sebastian Crampton and sophomore Jamie Cheatham are scheduled to return next season, which will alleviate much of the pressure placed on Morikawa this season. Without having to worry about shouldering the team, Morikawa’s game can only improve.

Maya Rao covers men’s golf. Contact her at [email protected]