A top-10 finish closes out Bears’ season

Photo of James Song of Cal Men's Golf
Karen Chow/Senior Staff

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The Cal men’s golf team placed ninth in the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational in Windermere, Florida, and freshman Tony Chen and sophomore Samson Zheng had particularly great performances, both tying for 18th place in the tournament.

“This week was good in a lot of respects as we had some really good rounds from the guys,” said assistant coach Chris Massoletti. “This course is tough with firm, fast greens and tucked pin locations that can entice you into some poor decisions. We really did a good job for the most part sticking to our game plan and being patient.”

The lowest score in the final round for the Bears on Tuesday was Chen’s 71 (-1) strokes. However, the game plan and patience proved to be fruitful in the end. Chen rebounded afterward, collecting four birdies and improving by 10 spots in the standings from a tie for No. 28 to a tie for No. 18. Zheng also tied for No. 18 alongside Chen, who shot a 75 (+3) in the final round. They both finished with 218 (+2) strokes overall.

The final two Cal scorers were sophomore Aaron Du and senior Finnigan Tilly. Du improved his score each round and progressed throughout the tournament, finishing in 67th place with a combined score of 232 (+16). Tilly ended the first two rounds one under par, but he had a rougher outing in the final round and finished with a tie at No. 45 with 225 (+9) overall strokes.

“The first round, we had three guys under par, which was really good; unfortunately the other two guys struggled and we were one scorer away from posting a great round,” Massoletti said. “The rest of the tournament, it felt like we never had our best stuff, and were constantly playing from behind after rough starts. To their credit, they kept it together on the back nine both days and never gave up. Really solid performances from both Sampson (Zheng) and Tony (Chen) to place inside the top 20 in a strong field.”

As coach Massoletti mentioned, they started out strong with some great performances, but as the tournament went on there were some rough starts — and they had to play catch up. 

Once again, patience and trust in the game plan was crucial. They kept working at it and didn’t lose hope. Ultimately, Zheng and Chen both placed inside the top 20 in a tournament full of talented contestants. 

That’s a great building block for the team as they look toward next season.

“There’s no doubt these guys are learning and getting better each week,” Massoletti said. “Our job is to keep that up in this offseason and be ready to go come January.”

The fall season has now come to a close, and after many months of frequent cross country travels and constant practices, it’s time for the Bears to take a break, so that they can come back ready and energized for next season. 

Practice makes perfect, and perfection takes a lifetime. The team doesn’t have a lifetime unfortunately, with college eligibility having an definite expiration date. The team showed promise, especially in its underclassmen, who will look to be leaders on the team in the near future.

Siddarth Srivastava covers golf. Contact him at [email protected].