In the busy month of October, Cal men’s golf will participate in the Alister Mackenzie Invitational in Sonoma for the first time since 2019, due to COVID-19. The two-day event will start Monday, with the Bears aiming to build off the momentum they gained at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational in Fayetteville, Arkansas last week.
A ninth-place finish in Arkansas may not have been the final result the Bears were looking for, but the team overcame adversity on the first day to finish strong in the last two. Some athletes continued to perform well individually, including junior Sampson Zheng who continued his spectacular play as the team’s top performer.
The rest of the Cal lineup, too, provided glimpses of promise that could translate well into the upcoming tournament. The final round of last week’s invitational was a success for the blue and gold, with four players having shot even par or better on the front nine. By building off this late success in Arkansas, Cal men’s golf could be a dark horse on its home turf at the Sonoma Golf Club.
The Alister Mackenzie Invitational will be a two day, 54-hole event that will include nine collegiate teams. The Bears hope to take advantage of a familiar course in their second tournament of October, playing on their well known and much-loved home turf. As many of the Cal players have participated in this course, the home team has the upper hand regarding tactics, ball placement and not having to adjust to a unique area.
The team has an extensive history at the invitational. Becoming the Team Champions 11 times since the tournament began in 2002, the Bears surely have a lot to strive for. The last time the Bears took home the team trophy was 2017 — earning the individual win at the same time. This was the fifth time the Bears had taken home the individual medal since 2002.
In the two years since this stellar 2017 showing, Cal has gone winless in both the team and individual category. This year could be just what Cal needs to break that streak. Having already gotten a lot of play in the past two weeks, the Bears will be taking on another challenge. After the Big Match against Stanford as well as the Blessings Collegiate Invitational, this will be a chance to take it back to basics right here at home.
The Alister Mackenzie Invitational will be a great opportunity for the Cal men’s golf team to utilize the momentum it has built to garner success not only in this event, but for the rest of the season.