The Cal women’s golf team entered the San Diego State March Mayhem looking to stop the downward spiral it has been battling all throughout the spring. Despite being a top-25 team, the Bears have yet to actually win a tournament this season. But coming off two weeks of rest, the team seemed in good position to make a run in this week’s 16-team tournament. Barely holding on to a top-10 finish was not the plan.
This hope for a top placing was short-lasted, eliminated after the five-seed Bears faced off against 12-seed Fresno State in the first round of match play. The Bears were dominated by Fresno State, 4-1, with only one member of the Cal’s roster, sophomore Marianne Li, winning a round. Sophomore Amina Wolf was the only other player to even make it through the full 18, eventually losing by one hole. The rest of the team faced insurmountable deficits before completing a full round.
“It came down to the last few holes, and it was putts.” said assistant coach Beverly Vatananugulkit. “Fresno State won it. They came in with birdies, and it’s hard to beat those birdies on those tough holes. Pushing it to the end, we gave them good competition.”
With this loss in the first round, the Bears were automatically eliminated from championship contention and bumped into the ninth place bracket. In the first round of that bracket, the Bears faced 13-seeded Iowa. Cal was once again matched up with a lower seeded team, and in this case a team well outside the top 50 in the country. The Bears again seemed to have an advantage going into the match, but the team only narrowly pulled out a victory, going 3-2, with junior Marthe Wold, freshman Maria Herraez and senior Lucia Gutierrez winning their matches.
“We were trying to keep (our play) really consistent and kind of wait for them to lose it” said Vatananugulkit. “If we keep our cool and play our game it can go either way, but at least we know we did the work.”
Moving into the third of four rounds and still in the running for a ninth-place finish, the Bears faced eight-seed UNLV. The team seemed to be settling in as they won four rounds (Herraez, Wold, Li and Guiterrez), but it was not a dominating performance as two of the four Cal wins went all the way through 18 holes.
In the final match of the tournament the Bears took on New Mexico State looking for their third match victory of the tournament and a ninth-place finish overall. As the sun set in San Diego, the team was not only competing with the the Aggies, but also with exhaustion, pushing to complete its fourth round in just two days. At the end of the last five matchups, Herraez, Wold and Li had won their matches, clinching the Bears the ninth overall spot and saving some face.
Although the team opened the tournament in disappointing fashion, it bounced back and overall won three out of their its matches. Cal will be in good position if this consistency and resilience can carry over in three weeks to the last regular season tournament and eventually into the postseason.
Graham Griffin covers women’s golf. Contact her at