Reaching redemption: Cal swings into 4th place at Molly Collegiate Invitational

photo of a UC Berkeley women's golfer
Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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Maybe it’s something about California. Blue skies, evergreen trees and the Pacific Ocean really do bring out the best in us.

Cal and Oregon State co-hosted the Molly Collegiate Invitational at the Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Courses in Seaside, California, welcoming 12 other teams from across the nation. In a competition flooded with nationally ranked opponents, Cal women’s golf walked away from the Molly Collegiate Invitational with a solid fourth-place finish, narrowly falling behind UCLA and San Jose State. Cal ended play with an aggregated score of 890, just five points above the 885 point threshold for a tie at second place.

This is a significant improvement from the team’s 10th-place performance at the Dick McGuire Invitational two weeks ago.While there was a marked difference between the first and second day of play then, the Bears stayed consistent this week, ending the first day tied at third and finishing the tournament ranked fourth.

Emotional steadiness and remaining consistent were things head coach Nancy McDaniel continuously emphasized in practice.

“Golf is a game of 6 inches: 6 inches between your brain,” McDaniel said. “That’s where if the work is done and the perspective is good, the game will come out of all of these players.”

Among the competitors were No.5 Stanford, who stole the entire tournament with a score of 878. Despite Stanford’s exemplary reputation however, the Bears matched the Cardinals stroke for stroke: After the first day, the two were tied for third place with Oregon State.

The gap between Cal and Stanford widened on the second day, largely due to the stellar performance of freshmen Rose Zhang and Caroline Sturdza. In both of their first games of the season, they placed first and second in individual rankings, respectively. In the third and final round, Zhang finished the 72-stroke course in just 68, bringing her total stroke count to -3, while Sturdza scored an even more impressive 5-under 67, finishing the tournament with an event count.

In the face of such pressure, the Bears held their weight. Cal had two top-10 finishers: Sophomore Mika Jin scored 1-over par 217 for a personal best of fourth place, while senior Katherine Zhu’s 4-over 220 earned her a solid seventh. Jin shot 3-under 69 in round two, propelling her into second place after the first day of play; her ranking was brought down by her first and last round performance of 3-over 75 and 1-over 73, respectively.

The Bears’ fourth-place finish at the Molly Collegiate Invitational was a welcome surprise for fans of the blue and gold desperate for progress. From the beginning of the season, the Bears have committed themselves to doing the work.

“This fall, we decided to put our heads down and every day get better and really focus on the shot at hand. I feel like we’re doing a really good job of being present-centered,” McDaniel said.

Hopefully, the team carries this momentum into the Stanford Intercollegiate from Oct. 15 to 17, building upon the success that was created on the sunny grasses of Seaside, California.

Cynthia Ge covers women’s golf and men’s swim and dive. Contact her at [email protected].