With an experienced group of three seniors leading the charge into the Cal women’s golf team’s fall season, the Bears are preparing for their first tournament beginning on Sept. 10. The team’s roster of seven student-athletes will head to the University of New Mexico to compete in the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational.
The 54-hole tournament, which is Cal’s first of the new school year, will mark the debut event for Cal’s two freshman, both of whom have been highly praised by head coach Nancy McDaniel.
Katherine Zhu, who has made the short journey from San Jose to begin her collegiate career in Berkeley, was ranked sixth in Golfweek’s ranking of 2018 recruits. Earlier this year, she competed in the U.S. Girls’ Junior tournament, where she made it past the first cut and into the round of 64.
Her other freshman teammate hails from a bit farther away, as Elena Arias came all the way from Gijón, Spain, to represent the blue and gold. Arias is just as accomplished as her counterpart, and her resume includes leading Spain to a championship at the World Junior Girls Championship in 2017.
After the graduation of former star Marthe Wold, the strong incoming class will be counted on to help the team to success this fall.
After the trip to New Mexico, the team will be back in the Bay for the Big Match against Stanford on Sept. 20. In what should be one of the most fun and unique matches in collegiate golf, the men’s and women’s teams will play together, with a pair from each school competing in the four-ball match. In addition to fueling the rivalry between the schools, the duos will get a nice refresher from traditional tournament styles.
Near the end of September, the Bears will head out to Idaho for the Coeur d’Alene Resort Collegiate Invitational before reuniting with the Cardinal at the Stanford Intercollegiate in mid-October.
To close out the fall slate, the team will get the opportunity to fly out to paradise (yes, even in November) for the Pac-12 Preview tournament in Kona, Hawaii. The island tournament will be held at Nanea Golf Club, which features views of the Pacific Ocean.
Cal placed third out of 12 teams at last year’s Pac-12 Preview, with four Bears individually placing in the top 26. A similar result this season would be a success, as the Pac-12 is arguably the best conference in the country for women’s golf.
The Bears’ spring schedule features four tournaments throughout the state of California, including the Gunrock Classic close by in Sacramento. Those four events, beginning in late February, will help Cal qualify for NCAA Regionals in May, followed by the National Championship.
With a roster featuring several players hoping to make noise in national tournaments, McDaniel is optimistic that the Bears can bring it all together starting this fall, and if all goes well, eventually end up in Arkansas competing for a title.