Trouble in Paradise: Cal looking to shake things up at Pac-12 preview

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Much like many students and professionals around this time of year, Cal women’s golf is looking for a change of scenery. A nice place to relax, somewhere to spend some time on the beach, and of course, play some golf with pals — and what better place to do so than Hawaii?

The Bears will get to enjoy the scenic views and warm weather on their next road trip, as they venture to Kailua-Kona this week for the Pac-12 Preview.

The tournament will feature some of the top teams in the country, including the No. 1 ranked Stanford Cardinal. The Cardinal, led by two standout seniors ranked in the top three in  world amateur standings, has performed to the highest caliber in its preseason tournaments. It was Cal women’s golf, however — along with the men’s team — which took the last laugh, defeating the Cardinal in the Big Match in early October.

Cal won’t just have to contend with its rivals, however. Five other ranked teams will attempt to make Hawaii a new favorite vacation spot, making the Pac-12 Preview one of the most competitive tournaments in the country.

“From my experience from playing this event, I think a top-five finish is really good in this Pac-12 Preview,” senior Maria Herraez Galvez said. “We are playing 11 of the best teams in the nation.”

Cal has enjoyed a much-needed three-week break after a tough stretch in which the Bears placed in the bottom quarter of two tournaments. Galvez hopes this time off will kick-start the team’s play, as well as her own. The veteran golfer has provided leadership for younger team members, but with the underclassmen quickly maturing and playing at a high level, the senior will be more relied on for her play on the field.

“We’ve been very focused on personally getting better because golf is a very individual sport. I think during these last couple weeks, it’s been really important to look at what every person has to improve,” Galvez said. “In order to have a successful team, we need to be successful individually and that way pull the rest of our teammates up.”

Despite some of the team’s struggles, individual success has not been hard to come by, especially for freshman Tzu-Yi Chang. Chang has provided a huge spark for the Cal team, continually developing her abilities and proving herself on the big stage.

In the team’s last tournament — the highly competitive Stanford Invitational — sophomore Katherine Zhu placed 16th out of 90 qualifiers, shooting just one over par across three rounds. It was easily Cal’s best individual performance of the year, and the Bears are looking for Zhu to continue her early career success in Hawaii.

This will be Cal’s last outing of the calendar year: their last chance to prove to themselves, the Pac-12 and the country that they are ready to compete at the highest level.

“Even though the results haven’t been showing so far, we believe we have very strong potential in this team,” Galvez explained. “As a senior, I’ve seen a lot of teams come through, and I just truly believe in this team.”

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