Deuces were wild in Fairfax during the Cal women’s golf two-day tournament, as two pairs of teammates battled for the top spots at the competitive Jueli Inkster at Meadow Club Invitational.
On one side, the feisty young Cal duo of Jasmine Lew and Katherine Zhu brought forth the best team effort of the Bears’ season. In the other corner of the ring were the Washington State pair of Marie Lund-Hansen and Amy Chu, a fierce set of competitors dueling against Cal’s early dominance.
In the end, it was the Cougar combo that clawed their way back in the final round to capture the first two spots in the tournament. Zhu and Lew, not to be completely outdone, finished tied for the bronze slot as their team finished in fourth.
Although she couldn’t hold on to her lead, Zhu continued to showcase her newfound spring dominance with her third straight under par performance in a tournament. Fresh off of a tournament win in last week’s Gunrock Classic, the sophomore finished one under par.
“Going into the tournament, I just wanted to keep the momentum and to continue to play well, but again I didn’t have any expectations,” Zhu said. “I am just really proud that over the past two weeks I have been able to have pretty consistent play and give myself opportunities to put myself in the race as well.”
Lew also put herself in contention for the tournament title with a strong three-under first round. After returning from an injury last week, Lew has been a huge spark for the surging Bears. In just two tournament appearances, the freshman has already proved that she can play a pivotal role in Cal’s late-season success.
“I think it is very exciting to see my teammates competing at a high level,” Zhu said. “(Lew) is someone who everyone on the team enjoys being around and that comes hand in hand with our team chemistry. I’m just really happy that she is playing well and putting up good scores.”
The Bears ultimately finished 18 over par, good for fourth in the tournament. Fellow Pac-12 members Oregon State, Washington State and Washington placed in the first three spots, respectively.
With another high finish, Cal has proved that the victory at the Gunrock Classic was no fluke, and the blue and gold have started to receive some recognition for their improved play. The Bears have been ranked as the No. 56 team in the country by Golf Stat, their highest standing of the year. Individually, coming off of three straight stellar performances, Zhu is now ranked No. 84.
Cal’s new level of self-confidence may be even more important than individual recognition. The team, reinvigorated by two straight outstanding showings, is ready for its last few tournaments and confident in its ability to make a postseason push.
“(The Gunrock Classic) definitely put the thought into people’s head that we are capable and that we are a top team,” Zhu said. “I think the combination of these two tournaments just proves to us that we have what it takes and we just have to (be) patient. Another win will come eventually.”
Cal’s season has been suspended indefinitely due to concerns regarding COVID-19.