The second half of the 2015-16 season begins Saturday for the Cal women’s golf team at the Peg Barnard Invitational in Palo Alto, California. The Bears are looking to start off this new year with a bang in their first tournament since their sixth-place finish at the Stanford Invitational last November.
The tournament will be hosted by fellow Pac-12 member No. 3 Stanford and the event will welcome three other teams from the conference: No. 12 Washington, No. 22 Colorado and Oregon. The tournament is set to take place over the course of two days with 36 holes to play. No. 21 Cal is looking to move up in the rankings as well as prepare itself to play its best golf at this year’s Pac-12 Championships.
The course is considered around the world as one of the best and has held a variety of prestigious events throughout the years. Notably, the Stanford University Golf Course has hosted the NCAA Women’s Championships, USGA Junior Amatuer Qualifying and the U.S. Open Qualifying.
Last year, the Bears finished in fifth place of the 12 teams competing on the Stanford Golf Course. Then-junior Hannah Suh finished in the top-10 in one of her best performances thus far. She will be looking to get off to the right start this spring in what is her last season wearing the gold and blue. Another senior on the team, Carly Childs, will also be focused on making the best start to the remainder of her Cal career. She will look to perform at a high level Saturday, continuing where she left off last fall.
Another Bear who is motivated to get back into regular season competition is junior Lucia Gutierrez. She is coming off an outstanding performance in the 2016 South American Amateur competition in her hometown of Lima, Peru. In the four-round tournament in the Lima Golf Club, she finished with a score of 6-under and 282 overall, tying for second place. She was either leading or near the top of the leaderboard throughout the entire tournament. When defending champion Sofia Garcia finished with a birdie on the final hole, Gutierrez fell short of winning the event on the final hole.
Alongside these veteran members on the Cal team are upcoming players, such as sophomore Marthe Wold and freshman Marianne Li. They’ll be looking to grow from their experience gained at the Pac-12 Preview in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, on Nov. 2-3. Li, who had one of her best performances as a Bear thus far, finished in the top five for the first time in the tournament.
As for the leader guiding these women, Nancy McDaniel is in her 21st season as the Cal head coach. She has seen them grow as players and has helped develop them throughout their time in the program. McDaniel will be hoping to take the course in the final half of the season coaching her players to make a run to a championship.
Oscar Oxlaj covers women’s golf. Contact him at [email protected]