After a three-week hiatus, Cal men’s golf returned to competition mode Thursday at The Goodwin, a tournament hosted by local rivals Stanford. This marked the first of two matches to take place in Northern California before the Pac-12 Championships in Oregon.
The Bears came into the tournament as the third-seeded team, trailing behind No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 7 USC. The Goodwin’s competitive field featured five teams ranked in the top 20 nationally, including No. 11 Cal. Ultimately, after three days of golf, the team finished in fourth behind Stanford, USC and Oklahoma.
Cal lingered around the top three for most of the tournament. The team’s opening round of +6 placed them in a tie for third with USC and eight shots out of the lead. After the first day, Cal had three players in the top 25, including senior Collin Morikawa, redshirt senior K.K. Limbhasut and freshman James Song.
In the second round, the Bears retained their third place position, behind host Stanford and USC. This earned them a place in the last group for the final day of the tournament.
Also in the second round, Morikawa moved up in the rankings from his seventh place after 18 holes to second place heading into the final round. He was two shots off of the lead and looked to gain ground Saturday.
In the final round, Morikawa quickly knotted up for first with USC’s Kaito Onishi. Both players double bogeyed the tenth hole, however, dropping them both out of the lead. Morikawa ultimately finished tied for third place, leading the team to a fourth place finish and extending his streak of top-5 tournament finishes to eight.
Noticeably missing from the tournament was redshirt senior Sebastian Crampton, who is ranked No. 39 by Golfstat and finished third at The Goodwin last year. Crampton instead competed as an amateur in the MacKenzie Tour’s Qualifying School West 1 at Carlton Oaks Country Club and ultimately finished seventh. This guaranteed him a spot at the first six professional MacKenzie tour events in 2019.
“Making it through Q-school was a tough task and a mental grind overall,” Crampton said in a press release. “I’m glad to have played well enough to secure a place to play professionally this summer and I am certainly looking forward to the opportunity ahead of me.”
In addition to competing at The Goodwin last week, Morikawa was named a finalist for the 2019 Byron Nelson Award. The award is given annually to a graduating senior based on a variety of criteria including collegiate academic and golf career, integrity and character. Morikawa was ranked No. 2 by Golfstat entering the tournament and is currently a National Player of the Year candidate.
“Being one of five finalists for the Byron Nelson Award is a true honor,” said Morikawa. “This award represents hard work on the golf course as well as in the classroom and to know that what I’ve done as a student-athlete is showing is really special.”
After this tournament, Cal now has one last event before the Pac-12 Championships and NCAA regionals. With a dedicated group of graduating seniors as well as new talent, the Bears hope to avoid a repeat of last season which ended in disappointment, as they failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
Akshara Majjiga covers men’s golf. Contact her at [email protected].