Can Cal women’s golf earn an upset at Stanford Dual Invitational?

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If history is any indication of the future, Cal women’s golf could be in for a rough day at Stanford’s Dual Invitational this Thursday. Cal will compete against San Jose State and Stanford at the 36-hole, stroke-play event at the Stanford Golf Course.

On Monday, Feb. 15, Katherine Zhu was the only Cal player that came out swinging in the team’s first tournament, the Sun Devil Winter Classic, at Talking Stick Golf Club in Scottsdale. The junior from San Jose shot 1-under-par 71 in the first round but, unfortunately for the Bears, was the only player on the team with a one par or better round. She ultimately shot 8-over-par 224 across the three rounds to tie for 25th in the 54-player field, which led the team. Zhu’s 25th-place finish in the tournament was followed by Jasmine Lew and Mika Jin, who finished tied for 34th and 37th, respectively. After tying for ninth as a team in Scottsdale last week, the Bears must be raring to take on both Stanford and SJSU at the upcoming Stanford Dual invitational.

Last year at the Stanford invitational, Zhu finished the tournament at 1-over-par 214 for the 54-hole tournament, but ended play 10 strokes behind Stanford’s tournament champion, Angelina Ye. Zhu’s development over the last year will be on full display when these two players meet again Thursday.

Given Stanford’s tournament success last season, Stanford has consistently proven itself as a force to be reckoned with, as it finished within the top nine in every competition last year and typically finished within the top five. In addition to their impressive run of form last season, four golfers on the Cardinal squad this season have been invited to the 2021 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, which means that the Bears will be facing some of the best competition the United States has to offer.

The Trojans may also pose a threat to the Bears, as they showed plenty of growth over their last season. SJSU finished a few of their first tournaments outside of the top 10 placings, but then slowly developed their talents and earned a 5th place finish at the Meadow Club invitational in early March last year.

The Bears are the only team attending the Stanford Dual that have already participated in a tournament this season, so they will definitely take advantage of their experience in contrast to the cold starts of both Stanford and SJSU. The Cardinal just returned to campus two weeks ago to begin their mandatory 10-day travel quarantine and medical onboarding process. Similarly, this tournament will mark the first time the Spartans have played competitively as a team since March 10, 2020, when they competed at the Juli Inkster at Meadow Club invitational. Considering the extra practice and experience Cal gained over the past few weeks, the blue and gold is in prime position to brush off their poor performance from a few weeks and earn their first tournament win of the season.

Dominique Tordjmann covers women’s golf and esports. Contact him at [email protected].