From the beginning of her collegiate career with Cal women’s golf, senior Maria Herraez Galvez has been accustomed to the presence of veterans.
In each of Herraez Galvez’s first three seasons at UC Berkeley, the Bears carried exactly four upperclassmen. This year’s roster, however, features only two upperclassmen: Herraez Galvez herself and junior Sofia Lundell. It’s the first time the Bears haven’t had an underclassmen majority since 2013-14.
Not only does this Cal team have just two upperclassmen, but Herraez Galvez is its only senior. For the first time in her collegiate career, Herraez Galvez will bear the brunt of being the team’s most experienced player.
She will have to be this young team’s grizzled leader — and sometimes the best way to lead is by example.
Herraez Galvez teed off her final season by matching the best 54-hole performance of her collegiate career, shooting four under par to finish in a four-way tie for eighth place at the Cougar Cup — as Cal finished eighth in the 15-team field.
The senior was especially dominant on Par 5 as she finished eight under par on these holes — her best score of the tournament — as well as recording eight birdies, seven pars and no bogeys. Herraez Galvez also finished with 13 birdies, tying for the third most recorded during the Cougar Cup.
“Maria had an overall solid tourney,” said head coach Nancy McDaniel.
Sophomore Katherine Zhu and freshman Tzu-Yi Chang put up solid performances as well in their first action of the season. Both underclassmen shot two over par, finishing in a six-way tie for 27th place.
“Getting two freshmen in the lineup early on is always good,” McDaniel said. “Given we are still getting settled in to the first two weeks of school, it honestly just felt good to get away and play a quality NCAA regional course and compete. Some good things happened to start our marathon season.”
It’s fitting that Zhu and Chang finished together, as both stand to be the future of the program. Last season, Zhu put together one of the best freshman seasons in program history — surpassing Marianne Li for the best freshman scoring average in the team’s history, with a mark of 73.58.
Zhu’s freshman counterpart brings an impressive resume to the table as well. Chang, the youngest player to ever join the Taiwanese national team at Symetra Tour events, won the IMG Junior World Championship in 2018 and the Calaveras Junior Open in 2016.
Lundell and freshman Kristine Tran participated for Cal as well, finishing tied for 47th and 82nd in a field of 89 players, respectively.
Sophomore Elena Arias, who finished last season with the second best freshman scoring season in program history behind Zhu, did not participate.
Cal was one of six teams in the Pac-12 to participate in the Cougar Cup alongside host Washington State, as well as Washington, Oregon, Oregon State and Colorado. The Beavers decisively took home the win by finishing 20 under par, eight strokes better than the Ducks in second place.
With their first tournament of the year now in the books, the Bears will set their sights toward the Molly Collegiate Invitational, a two-day tournament in Portland, Oregon. Along with host Oregon State, participants will include UC Davis, Santa Clara and San Diego State.