To say that the No. 18 Cal men’s golf team is playing really well is truly an understatement. After two very impressive victories in the Alister MacKenzie Invitational and Tavistock Collegiate Invitational, the Bears have vaulted themselves back into the conversation as one of the best teams in the country.
Although it seems like only yesterday that the Bears began its season, the team will be playing in its fifth and final tournament of the fall season in the Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational.
When the Bears started their season, one thing that they knew for certain was that they were going to be playing in some very difficult competitions. Head coach Walter Chun realized this and decided that regardless of how Cal played in its first four tournaments, the team could look forward to a fun finale in Hawaii.
“I wanted to end this fall season in Hawaii,” Chun said. “I knew that we would have a tough stretch having gone to the Farm Golf Club, Olympia Fields Country Club, and then the Isleworth Country Club. I wanted to have a little bit of fun at the end of the season and enjoy this time, because the players really play their best when they are relaxed.”
At the Ka’anapali Classic, the only ranked teams other than Cal are No. 12 LSU and No. 15 Kent State in the 21-team field. This presents the Bears with another great opportunity to finish high on the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.
“We are excited to keep playing,” Chun said. “Having won two in a row, we can’t ask for any more momentum heading into this tournament.”
An important point to consider regarding the Ka’anapali Golf Course is that conditions will be different than those at the Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Florida, where the team played last week. While the team will have to deal with strong winds and narrow fairways, the golf course as a whole will play much easier than previous courses. The greens will be much slower, and the course will be riddled with less obstacles in the way. This means that for the team to be in contention to win, the Bears will have to make a lot of birdies and go low.
In the one practice that the team had since the Tavistock Invitational, a point of emphasis from the coaching staff was on controlling the ball flight. Since none of the players on the team have played at this course before, making sure that each player can control his golf shots will be very important. This has been something that the Bears have been able to do extremely well at their last two tournaments.
While going to Hawaii will definitely be an enjoyable trip for the team, Cal will still look to remain focused on doing what has made them successful thus fair. The team has an opportunity to win three times in a row and finish the season with a bang. A positive performance here will definitely serve as springboard into the pivotal spring season.
Praveen Kuruppu covers men’s golf. Contact him at [email protected]