Cal men’s golf looks to pick up right where it left off in spring

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When the No. 14 Cal men’s golf team began its campaign all the way back in September, many around the country were curious how a once-heralded program would respond after a poor 2016-17 showing. But after an impressive fall season that included two victories, a third-place finish and numerous individual accolades, it’s safe to say that the Bears are finally back in the national spotlight.

Early on in the fall season, it was evident that Cal had a complete team. Unlike teams in the past, there was no longer as great of a disparity among players in the lineup.

A large part of this was due to Cal head coach Walter Chun getting juniors KK Limbhasut and Sebastian Crampton and sophomore Jamie Cheatham back from redshirting. Along with the signing of freshman Kaiwen Liu and the continued dominance of junior Collin Morikawa, Cal has the feel of a balanced team worthy of competing with any school in the country.

While there has been a much better balance on the team than last year, the play of Morikawa and Limbhasut has been of particular note. Morikawa, a Walker Cup participant, has been consistent throughout the year and has placed in the top-10 in his last three tournaments.

Along with Morikawa, the breakout player of the fall was Limbhasut, who won two tournaments at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational and the Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational. Throughout the remainder of the year, these two juniors will need to continue their splendid play for the team to have any chance of winning.

In all sports, however, it’s not always how a team starts, but how it finishes. A successful fall season will only be noteworthy if Cal can replicate and improve its play in the spring. With high expectations for the remainder of the year, the pressure will be on the Bears to deliver.

“I have high expectations, but our goal is to give it the old college try in every event and see how it goes,” Chun said. “Moving forward, I want our guys to play smart and just keep building momentum towards April and May.”

While there has been a lot of good play this season, Cal must still improve its ball flight control, an area in which the team has struggled. This was exemplified at the Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational where the Bears found it difficult to control its shots in the strong winds. Regardless of where they play, this must be a facet of the game that the Bears must improve.

With the spring season only a few days away at this point, it is exciting to see whether the Bears can continue their exceptional play from a little more than two months ago. There will be stiff competition along the way, but it will only serve to help the team in its quest of Pac-12 and national championship titles. Overall, for now, optimism surrounds a season pivotal for the Bears.

Praveen Kuruppu covers men’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].