With more than two months having passed without any competitive golf, the No. 14 Cal men’s golf team will surely be itching to get back on the course. After an initially shaky start to the fall season, Cal quickly turned things around by winning two tournaments.
The Bears will be hoping that their recent string of success will carry over into the Arizona Intercollegiate, the first tournament of the spring season.
The Arizona Intercollegiate will feature several top-ranked teams, including No. 6 Baylor and No. 3 Texas A&M. Both teams have been extremely consistent thus far and will provide Cal with a barometer of how it stacks up against some of the top teams in the country.
“It’s a tremendous field with great teams like Texas A&M and Baylor,” said Cal head coach Walter Chun. “Shaking off the rust and keeping the ball in play will be key factors for us.”
One of the advantages that the Bears have is that the team played on the exact same course last year. While juniors Collin Morikawa and William Aldred are the only remaining participants from last year, the tips that they can share with the rest of the team will be invaluable.
In this first tournament, the Bears will be without one of their staple starters, freshman Kaiwen Liu. Liu suffered a twisted ankle upon his return to school and will rest until he is back to full health. As a result, coach Chun will likely turn to redshirt sophomore Jamie Cheatham.
The sophomore from Torrey Pines High School was forced to withdraw from his last tournament at the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational because of an injury. Cheatham, who has been injured at different times throughout his career, will look to make take the most of the opportunity.
Because of new rules, the team wasn’t able to officially practice until last Monday which gave the team less than a week to prepare for the Arizona Intercollegiate. Despite this hinderance, Cal will look to continue upon what it was doing well at the end of 2017: strong ball striking and putting.
Additionally, the Bears will hope that their ball flight control — which has been a problem at various points this season — will see some improvement. With 36 holes to be played on Monday, Cal cannot afford a slow start.
The Bears will rely on Morikawa and redshirt junior KK Limbhasut to lead the charge. The best trait that the two have possessed this year has been consistency. From round to round, both players have not made many mental errors and have often put themselves in strong positions to contend.
Along with Morikawa and Limbhasut, redshirt junior Sebastian Crampton has been very impressive this season. Crampton’s best finish came at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational, where he finished in a tie for second.
Overall, this tournament is an important one for Cal. A strong showing here will provide a boost heading into the remainder of the spring season. The Bears will look to concentrate on one hole at a time and quickly get back to the level they were playing at when 2017 came to an end.
Praveen Kuruppu covers men’s golf. Contact him at