All things considered, 2021 was a season of growth for Cal men’s golf, which flaunted a largely underclass roster for its six-event spring campaign. While the team didn’t garner the most outstanding results, it touched on its goal this season — to develop as a group.
Senior captain Finigan Tilly will be the sole member of the team graduating this year. While his future is uncertain with Cal men’s golf due to technical circumstances, there is no doubt that he has imparted the wisdom of a seasoned veteran onto his younger teammates this season. But being the only senior on a college team brings a new set of pressures, which Tilly had to adapt to throughout the campaign.
“I tend to play poor when I put myself under too much pressure, and I definitely did that this year,” Tilly said. “I saw myself as the only senior, so I put pressure on myself to perform to help show the youngsters the ropes and hold the captain’s position.”
In potentially his last year with the Bears, Tilly still emerged with a top-10 finish at the Western Intercollegiate, Cal’s last tournament ahead of the Pac-12 Championships. While he was unable to notch the same finish at Pac-12s, Tilly and the rest of the blue and gold put together a stellar seven-under final round to finish in seventh place.
Tilly finished fifth on the team behind despite recording a four-under final round that was Cal’s best over the 18 holes. It was the underclassmen, led by freshman Aaron Du, who logged the first top-10 finish of his collegiate career in seventh place (-9), who set the pace for the Bears.
For Cal men’s golf, there was no one consistent leader for the team this spring in terms of scoring. Consequently, many golfers were able to garner experience leading their team.
“It was kind of a difficult year for us. It felt at times that nobody on the team could get any momentum,” Tilly said. “It was unusual having to always rely on a different player to lead us, but it was a lot of fun and a good learning experience.”
As Tilly continues his golf career, at Cal or on tours, the advice he gave his teammates will stick with them in the years to come. Described as a quiet leader by his coaches, Tilly’s golf game is defined by reflection. A victory for the senior involves learning something, taking away a newfound piece of knowledge regarding his own strengths and pitfalls.
“We play so many tournaments, so many rounds and some of these courses are set up so difficult. I tried to let them know that after four years of college golf, one round doesn’t really matter,” Tilly said. “It’s all about improving and making sure that after every round, you can write something down that you learned to continue to get better.”