Cal men’s golf to overcome tough course in Palm Springs

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As much as any other sport, golf is a game full of ups and downs. It’s a fickle sport that at times can even make the very best look bad. Couple the game with the intricacy of a five-player team format, and the idea of consistency week in and week out quickly becomes an afterthought.

At the end of the fall season, the No. 15 Cal men’s golf team was one of the hottest programs in the entire country. When the Bears began play at the Arizona Intercollegiate, however, things quickly took a turn for the worse. An eventual seventh-place finish left the team disappointed and in search of answers.

After two long weeks, the Bears will finally get an opportunity to redeem themselves and prove that their last outing was simply an aberration. This weekend, Cal will travel down south to sunny Palm Springs to participate in the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate.

The team will be playing at the Classic Club, a desert golf course designed by none other than Arnold Palmer. Not only will the Bears get the opportunity to quickly avenge their rough start to the season, but they will also have the chance to prove to themselves that desert courses are no nemesis.

“I really expect our guys to bounce back from our play in Arizona,” said Cal head coach Walter Chun. “The guys learned from their shortcoming and their mistakes and are eager to show we are a better team than in Arizona.”

Although Cal is just one of three ranked teams in this year’s tournament field, the onus will be on the Bears to play better golf. The mistakes that plagued the team last time — albeit largely because of weather conditions — will have to be avoided. In particular, the emphasis will be hitting more fairways in regulation and being better around the greens.

For the second straight tournament, Cal will be without freshman Kaiwen Liu who continues to rehab from an ankle injury sustained earlier in the spring. Liu, who was an integral and consistent performer in the fall, is making his recovery process of primary importance.

“He’s still not 100 percent,” Chun said. “He’s been making steady progress but it’s just too much to ask of him to jump back into the fold and expedite his recovery.”

As a result, Chun will turn to sophomore Finigan Tilly to play in the fifth position. A Bay Area native, Tilly has seen limited action this season, but he proved last year that he has the potential to step up.

Rounding out the lineup for the Bears will be junior Collin Morikawa and redshirt juniors Sebastian Crampton, Ben Doyle and KK Limbhasut.

Overall, the Wyoming Desert Intercollegiate provides Cal with a splendid opportunity to bounce right back to winning ways. While the Bears may be the best team on paper in Palm Springs, this is no excuse for any sort of letdown. The end goal has been the same all season — a deep run in the postseason — and tournaments such as this one help provide essential stepping stones for Cal to realize its ultimate goal.

Praveen Kuruppu covers women’s basketball. Contact him at [email protected].