In awe of Cypress, Bears down Trojans to wrap up fall campaign

Todd Drexler / SESportsMedia/Courtesy

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Picture this: You just parred one of the most historic holes in golf, and are now looking out across the expansive Pacific Ocean, soaking up the sun. What’s your inclination? If you’re like me, you might reach in your pocket to nab a photo with your phone.

Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, California encompasses the hole described above, with three of the final four holes pressed against the ocean ⏤ naturally, it is the perfect spot for a photo-op. Cypress Point is a historic club, however, which generally prohibits the use of electronics on its grounds.

Fortunately for the Cal men’s golfers, the club was a bit more lenient this week as it hosted the two-day, eight-team Cypress Point Classic.

“(The caddies) kind of discouraged having your phone out but they didn’t mind if you snagged a couple pictures,” redshirt senior Jamie Cheatham said.

Others, however, commented that the Bears had ample opportunity to get their photo shoot.

“They took so many pictures I didn’t know if they were preparing for a golf tournament or being photographers,”  said Walter Chun, Cal’s Alex and Marie Shipman Director of Men’s Golf.

Redshirt senior Jamie Cheatham and junior Finigan Tilly had special cause for taking photos this weekend, as the duo captured the sole victory for a Cal squad which fell hard the first day of the tournament, dropping a best ball foursome round 2-0 to No. 3 Georgia Tech. Cheatham and Tilly earned the only win over Illinois in the 2-1 alternate-shot afternoon loss.

The unique format of the Cypress Point Classic awarded a hole win to the duo with the best individual score in the foursome round, while duos alternated their shots for a combined score in the second round. On Tuesday, individual match play drove the tournament.

Tilly and Cheatham’s friendship contributed to their victory in the alternate shot round Monday.

“It was a lot of fun. We’re pretty good friends so we had some good conversation out there, kept it light, kept it fun … it was a really fun format overall. I think one of the biggest components of a best ball and alternate shot format is chemistry, so we definitely had that going for us this week,” Tilly explained.

Despite a tough first day, the Bears reflected on their mistakes to rebound for a near-sweep victory in match play against Pac-12 competitor USC on Tuesday, 5.5-0.5. Cheatham, Tilly, junior Kaiwen Liu, sophomore James Song and freshman Kento Yamawaki all carded triumphs, while freshman Connor Golembeski halved his match.

“The guys adjusted well today to beat (USC),” Chun said. He went on to note that approach shots plagued the Bears on the first day, as greens run quick at Cypress.

“(The greens) were ridiculously fast. It was actually outrageous because a lot of those greens are super sloped, so if you get your ball on the wrong corner you might end up off the green by 30 yards … Short game was massive,” Cheatham continued.

As short-game shortfalls were exposed at Cypress, work around the greens will remain an important fixture for Cal men’s golf as it gears up for the spring.

For now, however, the Bears are just happy they had the chance to play at such a historic track.

“It was actually a dream, man. It was such a unique experience getting to know the course, and you know in golf you get to hear all this stuff about the 16th hole on the ocean — so to actually play it four times in a week was unreal,” Cheatham said.

Cal men’s golf closed out their fall campaign at the stunning and historic Cypress Point Club in Pebble Beach, California this Monday and Tuesday. The Bears capped the two-day, three-round event with a victory over USC in their final round.

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