Big Match: Cal women, men set to take on Stanford

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Cal women’s golf

Games of any sport are often decided by mere inches. Golf is no different — mishitting the ball by a few centimeters on a drive or setting up a putt one inch too far to the right can mean the difference between a birdie and a double bogey. It is often these imperceptible variations that can swing the result from one opponent to the other.

Yet Cal women’s golf will need to overcome more than mere inches to take down its next opponent, the Stanford Cardinal.

No. 10 Stanford will come into the Big Match fresh off a huge victory at the Molly Collegiate Invitational, where it shot a combined 4-under to secure the top spot. In the same tournament, under cold and damp conditions, the Bears finished 64 strokes over par, a showing that resulted in a second-to-last place finish.

“They are just a really solid team,” said Cal head coach Nancy McDaniel about Stanford’s perforance. “This week it was their week.”

The Cardinal are led by the high-flying senior duo of Andrea Lee and Albane Valenzuela. Lee, who holds the number one ranking in the world for amateur golfers, captured her program leading ninth at the invitational with a 6-under score.

Not to be outdone by her dynamic teammate, Valenzuela shot 2-under through the three rounds, placing third in the tournament. Valenzuela, from Geneva, Switzerland, is ranked third in the world.

“That separates them,” McDaniel said about Lee and Valenzuela. “When that’s half your scores, that’s pretty darn good. Having two players of that caliber would help any team.”

The Bears will look toward senior Maria Herraez Galvez and freshmen standouts Tzu-Yi Chang and Kristine Tran to combat the talented Cardinal starting five. Chang and Tran are both coming off big tournaments of their own in Portland, Oregon, and they will hope to continue to build off the experience they are gaining.

In the end, the Big Match will come down to more than mere inches between the two teams. Cal will need to patch up its putting errors and put together a complete performance if they are to knock down the rival Cardinal.

“In golf, we prepare to play the course,” McDaniel said. “However that happens, that’s what we can control: our preparation.”


Cal men’s golf

Cal men’s golf looks much different heading into this week’s Big Match at Menlo Country Club in Woodside, California. Five out of the six starters from last year’s inaugural installment of the coed, four-ball tournament graduated this past spring.

This year, however, the Bears will establish a largely returning lineup as redshirt senior Jamie Cheatham is the lone senior on the Bears roster.

“Yeah, I didn’t get to play last year, so I’m excited. … we definitely want another win,” Cheatham said.

Last year, Cal went down to the wire with rival Stanford as seniors Collin Morikawa and Cindy Oh combined for a victory in a two-hole playoff after an all-square 18 holes.

The sole returner from last year’s squad is sophomore James Song, who contributed to the Cal triumph after a match win with then-freshman Katherine Zhu. This season, Song already carded a 2-under par 68 at the challenging Olympia Fields Country Club in Illinois, exhibiting strength early on.

“Olympia Fields is a major championship course. … the hope going there (was) to shed light on what it is to play at a very competitive golf course,” said Walter Chun, Cal’s Alex and Marie Shipman Director of Men’s Golf.

Menlo Country Club is a much different, less demanding track, which only amounts to just over 6,800 yards. The Bears will be fresh off of a similar, 6,734-yard course at the Cal-hosted Alister Mackenzie Invitational on Monday and Tuesday.

“Hopefully, it’s a confidence booster for the guys as well as the coaching staff,” Chun said.

This season is different in many ways for the Bears — there are new faces on the starting front, new challenging events and, with that, potentially new confidence. 

These changes are, however, ultimately designed with the same goal in mind: taking home a coed triumph in enemy territory.

Ethan Waters covers men’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].
Noah Parker covers women’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].