Cal women’s golf finishes at No. 9 in Pac-12 Tournament

A golf player swings her club.
Karen Chow /File

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Cal women’s golf wrapped up the season’s potentially last tournament in ninth place at the Pac-12 championship while challenging highly competitive teams at Palos Verdes Golf Club.

Overall, the Bears shot 905 for the tournament to finish at No. 9. Seven of the eight teams that finished in front of the Bears were ranked in the nation’s top 25 — Cal managed to usurp No. 35 Oregon State.

Continuing their unshakable habit of starting tournaments poorly, the Bears struggled during Monday’s first day of play. At the end of the first day of the Pac-12 championship, the Bears stood at No. 10 while shooting 311 (+27) in the first round of play. Cal was paired with its rival Stanford as they teed off to begin play Monday morning. From the very beginning, Cal’s five players combined to shoot 6-over on the first hole and 4-over on the second hole to put the team behind in the competition.

On Tuesday, the Bears managed to claw their way into No. 9 as they shot 13 shots better than Monday’s opening round — leading to one spot up the leaderboard on day two of the Pac-12 championship.

Cal recorded a total of 298 at the end of Tuesday’s tournament play as it was 14-over par as a group in the second round, which led to Cal being +41 over the first two rounds, storming past Colorado to head into Wednesday’s final round as No. 9.

As if it were trying to maintain superstitions or habits, Cal managed to pull off its greatest and most successful performance in the last round of the tournament. Overall, the Bears shot 12-over 296 Wednesday, beating their 311 and 298 scores from the previous rounds.

In retrospect, perhaps Cal’s postmature success in the tournament could be attributed to the veteran mindset and ability of seniors Amina Wolf and Cindy Oh. To no surprise, Oh was the top finisher for Cal and finished in a tie for No. 30 with 3-over 74 on the final round of the tournament. Overall, Oh finished the tournament 12-over, which can be credited to two birdies and a 3-over mark Wednesday. With her stellar performance, senior Oh led the charge to climb up the leaderboard, as all five Cal players finished within 13 spots of each other.

Providing another veteran presence, Wolf was another key contributor to Cal’s success in this tournament. Wolf was a consistent performer in the Pac-12 Tournament, shooting 76-75-75 for each day, respectively, to finish 13-over for the tournament. Throughout the tournament, Wolf was on fire as she hit multiple birdies, including hitting four birdies on the last day.

On the other hand, it seemed as if the Pac-12 Tournament finally shook some of the freshman jitters that Katherine Zhu has been hiding throughout her phenomenal performances in the 2018-19 season. In Zhu’s debut for the Pac-12 Tournament, it was rather disappointing as she tallied a 5-over 76 in the final round, which allowed her only to finish in a tie for No. 41. Usually posting results that rival Oh’s statistics, Zhu’s outing in this Pac-12 Tournament has been rather disappointing.

From the results of the Pac-12 Tournament, it seems as if the freshmen have challenged the big stage well but are still scared of the pressure. Perhaps they will get more opportunities to play on the big stage before the season ends; the Bears have to wait to see if they qualify for their 20th consecutive NCAA Regionals as the results come out live Wednesday, April 24 on the Golf Channel at 2:30 p.m. PST. The 2019 NCAA Regionals will be held in Auburn, Alabama; Cle Elum, Washington; East Lansing, Michigan and Norman, Oklahoma. The top six teams will advance to the NCAA championship.

Leo Kim covers women’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].