Cal men’s golf’s Brandon Hagy shines despite dreary conditions at Aggie Invitational

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2013 Alister MacKenzie Invitational Champions (from left to right: Associate head coach Walter Chun, Michael Weaver, Brandon Hagy, Pace Johnson, Brandon Hagy, Keelan Kilpatrick, Joël Stalter, head coach Steve Desimone).

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It was a dreary Sunday afternoon in Bryan, Texas, and the 12 golf teams at the Aggie Invitational were facing some of the worst golfing conditions imaginable. Fierce winds coupled with heavy rainfall were turning an already difficult course into a nearly impossible one.

 While the rest of his competitors were collapsing under the pressure of relentless rain, Brandon Hagy of Cal men’s golf stepped up to the eighth hole of the par-72, 7146-yard course at Traditions Golf Club. After bogeying his previous two holes, Hagy faced a crucial moment midway through his second round with his position in the lead hanging in the balance. Three swings later, Hagy carded a birdie. He would do it again on the ninth and then again on the 10th and then two more times before the round was over.

Hagy (71-70-71, -4) finished the two-day, 54-hole tournament Sunday at a remarkable four under par, three strokes ahead of his next competitor, Texas A&M’s Greg Yates (74-72-69, -1). Hagy was the only player of the entire 70-man field to finish each round of the tournament under par.

“It was one of the best (performances) in the history of the program,” said head coach Steve Desimone. “Three rounds under par, which is fabulous playing. It will certainly build some momentum for him as we head into next week.”

The spectacular performance earned the nationally ranked senior his third individual title of the season and helped carry the No. 4 Bears (302-302-302, 906) to a fourth-place finish overall at 42 over par in their second-to-last tournament of the regular season.

 Moving into fourth was an improvement for the Bears who started the day in seventh place after going 29 over par in their first two rounds of play Saturday. But thanks to a second-lowest team score of 302 on Sunday, the Bears were able to move into fourth and tie with No. 2 Oklahoma State.

The Bears’ rough play in the first 36 holes was partly a result of the horrible weather conditions that plagued the weekend, hiked up team scores and forced multiple stoppages of play.

“Today was one of the craziest days I’ve ever seen on a golf course in a long time,” Desimone said. “The rain came down three or four, five times. It hammered down — and I mean hammered down — for 15 to 20 minutes … It was brutal.”

The weather forced the Bears to approach the tournament with more conservative play in mind, as this weekend marked the first time the Bears had participated in the Aggie Invitational or played on the Traditions Club course with only one practice round Friday.

“When you have conditions like these, you do dial it back. Or you should,” Desimone said. “You want to try and hit as many fairways as you can, play at the the center of the green, stay away from the bunkers.”

After Hagy, the next best finish for Cal was carded by Keelan Kilpatrick, who tied for 21st individually and finished 15 strokes behind his teammate at 11 over par. Cal’s Joel Stalter couldn’t repeat his first-place performance at the NIT Invitational on March 16 and tied for 37th in Texas.

“We made too many mistakes early. The guys played their hearts out yesterday (Saturday), but it just didn’t work out,” Desimone said.

Christine Menchaca covers men’s golf. Contact her at [email protected]