As a top-25 ranked team going in with five experienced players taking the course, the Cal women’s golf team appeared to be poised for a strong start to its season Monday. Reality, however, was far from the expectation. The Bears suffered through three miserable rounds throughout the two-day Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational in New Mexico. The team finished the tournament T14, +33 (897) out of 18 participating teams.
The first two rounds of the tournament, which took place throughout Monday, saw the Bears dig themselves into a hole they were never able to climb out of. In the first round, as a team, the Bears bogied 27 holes, including one triple bogey from junior Marianne Li on the back nine. Eight birdies weren’t nearly enough to offset those bogies. This dismal start to the day was far from what the team was hoping for.
“Our goals were much higher. We wanted to go in and stick to a really good plan and execute.” said Cal head coach Nancy McDaniel. “And that happened, but not on a high enough level.”
In the second round on Monday, the team appeared to settle in and make some progress, shooting 286 overall compared to 304 in the first round. Li had an impressive turnaround in her second round, birding five holes on the back nine, and shooting -2. While cutting their score by over 20 points was nothing to laugh at, even with this improvement, the team still only shot 590 (+14) on the day, putting them fifteen strokes back behind the leader, Oklahoma State, at 14th overall.
The one glimmer of hope on the first day for Cal came from sophomore Jiyoon Jang, who was fighting for a starting position at the end of last season. Jang performed under pressure last year and earned a place for herself in the Pac-12 tournament, where she finished T16th overall. Jang had the best score of the first day for the Bears, finishing at +1 maintaining an almost par average throughout the round. An eagle on the ninth hole added an exclamation point to her impressive round.
“(Jang) has a good sense of how to get back on track,” said McDaniel. “She came back with better focus in the second round. She had a flash of brilliance her in second round and was able to climb up the leaderboard.”
With two rounds under their belt Cal looked to make a push on the final day of competition.The second day of the tournament, however, proved to be the worst round of the tournament for the Bears. On holes 10 and 15, every member of the team bogeyed or double bogeyed. Senior Marthe Wold, who had shot +2 and +3 respectively the day before, crashed and finished her day at +9. The inability to improve from Monday lead to the Bears disappointing 14th-place finish.
The team will need to regroup as they look ahead, and they will have time to do this, as they aren’t competing again until early October, when they head to the Windy City Collegiate on Oct. 2-3.
Graham Griffin covers women’s golf. Contact her at