Despite the stormy weather and the difficulty of the Southern Highlands Golf Course in Las Vegas, Michael Kim jumped an astounding 44 spots from the first day to the second day at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters.
In the three-day tournament last weekend, Kim had a total of 14 birdies on Saturday, moving him from being tied at 51st to being tied for seventh. Ranked No. 1 in the nation by Golfweek, he broke a school record for the number of consecutive wins, finishing the tournament in a four-way tie for first place.
“The course really fit our games well,” said coach Steve Desimone. “We felt comfortable about it.”
No. 1 Cal closed the tournament in first place with a 13-stroke lead. This was its eighth of nine away tournament victories.
“I’m running out of superlatives for these guys,” Desimone said. “It’s really the best problem to have.”
UNLV hosted 13 of the top 14 collegiate golf teams this weekend, including Cal’s Bay Area rival, Stanford. The Cardinal were the only team that was able to keep up with the Bears’ talented players.
Stanford was one shot behind Cal on Friday and was the only other team to break par due to unfriendly weather conditions. The tournament was put on hold for 90 minutes because of the severity of the storm.
“We got slammed by rain,” Desimone said. “It was just coming down in buckets. It was a merciful delay.I’m not sure any of us would be alive if they hadn’t called us off the field.”
Rain or shine, all five of Cal’s players finished the tournament in the top 11. Max Homa finished in a four-way tie for seventh, while Brandon Hagy, Joel Stalter and Michael Weaver finished in a five-way tie for 11th.
On Friday and Saturday, Homa had even par rounds, evening out his multiple birdies and bogeys. Homa moved up five positions on Sunday, boasting an eagle on a 40-foot putt on the 13th hole.
Hagy started the team off strong on Friday, playing impressively under the harsh weather conditions. He began with a three-under-par round of 69. With a total of 11 birdies, split up by two pars, and one lone bogey at the end, Hagy finished tied for third on Friday.
Hagy fell nine spots on Saturday to 12th. But on Sunday, Hagy climbed up one spot and played the best of the three Bears tied for 11th..
The Bears claimed their 14th of 22 wins since last fall with this tournament. Cal will take a break until April for the Arizona State Thunderbird Invitational.
Alexa Cammarano covers men’s golf. Contact her at [email protected]