Anticipating the arrival of this year’s torrential downpour from El Nino is as much of a guessing game as predicting Cal’s performance at a tournament this season. Like El Nino, the Bears will be traveling across the Pacific Ocean to play 54 holes at the exquisite Nanea Golf Club in Hawaii on Monday and Tuesday.
Perhaps a sign of the coming El Nino, Hawaii won’t be full of its well-known radiating sunshine and charming blue skies. Instead, it’ll be plagued by gloomy clouds and the threat of downpour throughout the two-day tournament.
Cal, a team that has been struggling with consistency, is coming off a respectable finish at the Stanford Intercollegiate, where it placed seventh. It will be aiming to build upon its results when it faces off against other Pac-12 competitors at the Pac-12 Preview. With the Pac-12 Championships being five and a half months from now, this tournament will provide No. 23 Cal with valuable experiences. The playing time could help the Bears improve upon their disappointing 10th-place finish at last year’s Pac-12 Championships.
Despite missing No. 1 USC and No. 3 Stanford in the field, the Pac-12 Preview will be full of challenges that will exhibit the depths of the conference. It will feature several top-20 teams, including No. 6 UCLA, No. 9 Arizona, No. 13 Arizona State and No. 15 Washington. Among the Bears’ other challenges will be Bronte Law of UCLA, who was recently named the Pac-12 Women’s Golfer of the Month.
So far this season, Cal has mustered together wins against Arizona, Arizona State and Washington State. In their three tournaments, the Bears have accumulated a respectable 10-8 record when facing opponents ranked in the top 50. Cal will certainly be competitive and in contention to be the tournament champion.
The Bears will be sending the starting lineup of seniors Hannah Suh and Carly Childs, junior Lucia Gutierrez, sophomore Marthe Wold and freshman Marianne Li. Amina Wolf, another freshman, will get an opportunity to play in Hawaii but won’t be factored into the team’s score.
Suh has been the top golfer for Cal the last two tournaments. Being able to improve upon her results will benefit both Suh and the Bears. Gutierrez, Wold and Li could find success, as each individual player has had glimpses of stardom this season. Each player, however, is struggling to amass a competitive aggregate tournament score.
The wild-card player for Cal will be Childs. In her senior season, she is combating a frustrating level of inconsistency. It will be important for Childs to have a strong end to the fall season to re-establish her confidence and consistency in time for the spring schedule.
The Pac-12 Preview will serve as the fall finale for many of the teams in the field. Cal, like Childs, needs an energetic start-to-finish before it enters its three-month hiatus from competition — valuable and much sought-after time the Bears will need in order to better address some of their weaknesses this year.
Chris Zheng covers women’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].