The drought is over. For the first time since 2017, the Bears dominated at the Alister Mackenzie Invitational, winning by 13 strokes and tasting the sweetness of a first-place victory on their home turf at Sonoma Golf Club. In the tournament’s 18-year history, it was the 12th time Cal men’s golf team finished at the top, following a five year hiatus.
The team’s performance as a whole (282-285-276 – 843, -21) displayed their position in a league of their own, as runner-ups Minnesota (279-289-288 – 856, -8) and San José State (288-280-290 – 858, -6) were left in the dust. An hour and a half fog delay on the second day proved to be of no concern for the Bears, as they shot a tournament-low 276 in the final round to pull away in a tightly contested battle for the win.
Standout junior Sampson Zheng once again played a vital role in the team lineup, shooting 10-under-par (68-72-66 – 206) on his way to an individual second place finish. With the first day consisting of two tight rounds, Zheng shot six birdies to keep the Bears near the top of the leaderboard. He was far from finished, however, as he shot a career collegiate-best 66 (-6) in the final round to catapult Cal atop the standings. In the end, he was just five strokes away from individual winner Ian Gilligan of Long Beach State.
It wasn’t just Zheng who stepped up to the plate as five Bears overall finished in the top 10. Freshman Nathan Wang (70-71-69 – 210) and redshirt sophomore Tony Chen (73-71-67 – 211) tied for sixth and eighth place, respectively. The two were major contributors in the third round, where Wang (-3, 69) and Chen (-5, 67) provided spectacular performances to drastically expand Cal’s first place lead.
Additionally, Jeewon Park (74-67-70 – 211, -5) and Simon Kwon (69-73-70 – 212, -4), both playing as individuals for the tournament, finished with top 10 performances.
A victory at the Alister Mackenzie Invitational marked the blue and gold’s first overall tournament win since February 2019 at the Farms Invitational in Rancho Santa Fe, California. While Cal men’s golf started their fall fixture with lackluster performances, the team really started to find its groove in the middle of October, following a promising performance at the Blessings Collegiate Invitational. The Bears will look to keep this confidence and stellar play for their final tournament of the year in Windermere, Florida.
After roughly a two week break, the Bears will head to Windermere, Florida, to compete in the Isleworth Collegiate on October 23-25.