The story of the Cal women’s golf team this week calls to mind one familiar childhood fairy tale. The big bad wolf — the big bad wind in Cal’s case — huffed and puffed and blew all the golfers down. Due in part to some nasty winds in the second round, the Bears (308-330-307, +79) fell to a fourth-place finish at the BYU Entrada Classic in St. George, Utah, on Monday and Tuesday. The Bears finished the tournament with a total team score of 945, going 79 strokes over par.
“The wind on the course was challenging, but I had no idea it would be that challenging for this team,” said head coach Nancy McDaniel to Cal Athletics. “It exposed some weaknesses that can’t be ignored, which is putting, short game and wind play.”
Fortunately for the Bears, they weren’t the only ones who struggled against the wind on the par-72, 6,015-yard course at Snow Canyon Country Club in Utah. No team in the 16-team matchup came anywhere near posting a score close to par. The best score of the tournament was carded by first-place-title winner Minnesota (312-318-301, +67), who finished the 54-hole event with a total score of 931 — a shocking 67 over par.
Still, the Gophers finished the two-day tournament 12 strokes ahead of Cal. The Bears’ fourth-place finish came as a disappointment for a Cal team that was likely the strongest out of the 16 unranked teams competing in Utah. The Bears, who won the Pac-12 championship only a season ago, finished behind three unranked opponents Tuesday, none of whom have won a tournament this season.
The Bears opened the tournament with solid-enough play in their first round Monday, finishing the first 18 holes with a team score of 308 and on track with the rest of the field. The breakdown for the Bears, however, came later that same day, in the second round when the winds picked up.
In the second round, the Bears fell to sixth place after a round score of 330 that saw all five Cal players finish the round in double digits over par. In one of their worst rounds ever, the Bears amassed 30 bogeys and 13 double bogeys in 18 holes of play. Cal, however, was far from alone in its experience on the course, where bogeys, double bogeys and triple bogeys were all-too-common sights. In last place was Dixie State College, a Division 3 team that finished the tournament at 176 over par.
The Bears were able to finish the tournament off strong with a much better performance Tuesday in their last round in Utah, and they tied for the second-best round score of the day at 307. Senior and team leader Nicola Rossler (78-83-73) came back from a dismal start to finish only one over par in the third round and tied for 11th individually.
In a surprising twist, the best Cal performance of the tournament came from little-used junior Jo Ee Kok (75-82-76) who tied for ninth individually. Kok played steadily throughout the three rounds and was rewarded with her first tournament top-10 finish and best career finish at Cal.
“Jo Ee had a good tournament,” McDaniel told Cal Athletics. “It’s awesome seeing more and more solid play from her.”
Christine Menchaca covers men’s golf. Contact her at [email protected]