Freshman shines as Cal women’s golf takes a 4th-place finish

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Just days after its close victory in the inaugural Big Match against Stanford, Cal women’s golf participated in a more traditional tournament from Sept. 24-25. The Coeur D’Alene Resort Collegiate Invitational, hosted by Gonzaga, featured 18 teams, including Pac-12 opponent Washington State.

The Bears finished in fourth place in the invitational as freshman Katherine Zhu led the way, finishing 1 under par for an individual tie for second place. This impressive performance by Zhu was a huge jump for her, after initially tying for 28th place in the team’s season opener two weeks ago.

Zhu was the only Cal player to shoot under par on the par-71 course.

“Our freshmen are strong,” said head coach Nancy McDaniel in a press conference. “This performance doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Although Cal’s freshmen stood out, star senior Cindy Oh had her entire first round disqualified on Monday after mismarking her scorecard. This was a tough blow for the team, as Oh already had a top-five finish this year and a great outing at the Big Match a few days ago.

Oh came back strong on Tuesday, however, shooting five birdies, including two in the final two holes, to help the Bears earn their fourth-place finish.

Cal senior Amina Wolf started off strong — tied for 26th through two rounds — but ultimately fell to tie for 32nd in the individual rankings on the last day. This performance was still good enough for Cal’s second best in the tournament, with a score of 8 over.

Freshman Elena Arias finished just one stroke behind Wolf, shooting 9 over in the two-day tournament to tie for 40th. This was not the follow-up tournament she was looking for, however, after finishing 13th in the team’s first tournament earlier this month.

The final active golfer in this week’s past tournament was senior Marianne Li, who finished in a tie for 48th. She played a great final round, shooting 1 over par and moving up 17 spots in the individual standings.

Cal finished in fourth place, four spots higher than the team managed to notch in the Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational. The team combined to shoot plus-20, a slightly worse score than the Bears recorded in their previous tournament, but the team still finished with a higher placement because of strong individual performances. Coming off of the thrilling Big Match just a few days ago, the Bears hoped to build on their strong season, and did just that.

Zhu and Arias bring excitement to fans, and the Bears can count on them to continue their early stardom over the next few years. These young players finished with two of the best scores on the team, and Zhu’s second-place finish shows the potential of her talent as she looks to grow even more throughout the season.

The Stanford Intercollegiate tournament from Oct. 19-21 will give the Bears another opportunity to continue their growth and upward movement this season.

Jack Whaley covers women’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].