Zhu shines at Stanford Invitational, Bears still suffer low finish

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Cal sophomore Katherine Zhu managed to do something at the Stanford Invitational this weekend that very few Cal golfers have been able to accomplish all year: find consistency. It wasn’t her stellar individual rounds that were a revelation for the Bears, but rather her stability throughout the weekend.

Even after an outstanding opening round, Zhu managed to keep her composure, posting even better scores over the next two days.

Zhu would finish just 1 over par, good for 16th place out of 90 qualifiers. Her performance in the final round was especially impressive, with a 2-under performance that catapulted her up 12 spots in the individual rankings. It was her most complete performance of the year, and by far the best showing of any Cal golfer so far this season.

As a whole, however, the Bears couldn’t capture the magic that Zhu possessed this weekend. Fresh off a huge Big Match victory last Wednesday, the Bears once again placed in the lower tier of a preseason tournament.

Cal shot a combined 38 strokes over par to finish in 15th place at the invitational. The Bears were sunk by a poor showing in their final round, as they shot +15 (tied for worst in the round) to bring them down four spots from the previous day.

Surprise contender Arizona State took home the tournament title with a team score of -10. Pac-12 rivals Stanford (-5), USC (-4), and Arizona (-4) rounded out the rest of the top four spots. At the end of the invitational, the Bears finished below all eight Pac-12 teams that participated in the tournament.

Another optimistic outcome for Cal besides Zhu’s play was the return of sophomore Elena Arias. Out for the first month of the season with an injury, the on-field play and leadership presence of Arias was a welcome addition back to a young Bears team. Although Arias finished in last place, nearly 40 strokes back of the lead, the extra practice is key on her way back from injury with Pac-12 play beginning in two weeks.

Elsewhere in the field, Cal freshman Tzu-Yi Chang continued her sensational freshman campaign, netting a three-round score of 5 over. Freshman Kristine Tran (+18), senior Maria Herraez Galvez (+19), and junior Sofia Lundell (+25) rounded out the rest of the Bears’ scores.

“They are showing a poise about their game that can really be a contributing factor for us,” said head coach Nancy McDaniel on the underclassmen standouts. “That’s a bright spot for us right now in our lineup.”

Stanford’s Angelina Ye captured the title with a stellar score of 10 under, which included a -5 final round. The true freshman has been a revelation for the Cardinal and could factor into the Pac-12 individual race. Stanford seniors Andrea Lee (ranked No. 1 in the world) and Albane Valenzuela (No. 3), who were at Stage II of LGPA qualifiers, did not compete in the invitational.

The Bears will have two weeks to rest and prepare for their next match after a busy stretch of October games, as they travel to Hawaii on Nov. 4-6 for the Pac-12 Preview. It will be Cal’s first Pac-12 match of the season, although the Bears have already become quite familiar with many of their conference opponents.

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