Consecutive competitions in short time spans are always brutal and are bound to take a toll on any team, regardless of sport. The Bears underwent a week with back-to-back matches to close September and open October, coming away with mild performances and clear room for improvement. Following a two-week hiatus from competition, the Bears will return to the golf course from Oct. 21 to 23 to play at the Stanford Intercollegiate.
Cal has had the opportunity to reflect on its past two appearances at the Big Match and Blessings Collegiate; it will take those discoveries down to Palo Alto in hopes of finishing atop the leaderboards. The par-71 Stanford Golf Course is one of familiarity — being about an hour away from Berkeley. Mika Jin, Kristine Tran and Jasmine Lew played in last year’s rendition of the tournament. The Bears will look to exceed their ninth place finish from last year and compete with the top-ranked schools participating this weekend.
The blue and gold has so far posted varying results at their three events, but nevertheless show signs of promise. A third place finish at the USF Intercollegiate, taking 2 out of 6 matches at The Big Match against Stanford and a good final stretch at Blessings Collegiate in Arkansas among multiple ranked teams is a solid start for a team trying to rebound from last year’s subpar end.
Hoping to build on the momentum they displayed on the final day at Blessings, the Bears look to hit the ground running at Stanford. In particular, sophomore Jieming Yang had a career-best final round at Blessings, posting a score of 70 (-2). Emulating that performance across the three-day tournament will be a tall task, but one that Yang has the ability to accomplish.
The second-place Cal individual in both the USF Intercollegiate and Blessings Invitational, graduate student Annika Borrelli has been the most consistent player for the blue and gold and will lead a group of non-seniors to battle. Borrelli entered the final round at Blessings in third place among 57 individuals and despite a final round slip-up, she clearly possesses the talent to make a run at a top individual finish in Palo Alto.
Junior Cristina Ochoa impressed to begin the year, finishing as the number three overall individual at USF with three straight rounds of 2-under play, then followed it up with one of Cal’s two match wins at the Big Match. Despite a fall from grace with a 40th place finish at Blessings, Ochoa is primed to return to form at Stanford and provide the Bears with a much-needed boost.
Cal will need to put together a comprehensive, all-around team performance to rustle some leaves at Stanford. Their third place team finish at USF featured four of their five individuals finishing in the top 20; a much tamer yet still consistent top 50 finish across the board for all five individuals at Blessings netted them 7th place out of 11. Consistency will be key for the Bears to hang around with the high-ranking schools participating this weekend.
Hosts and across-the-bay rivals Stanford currently hold the number one ranking in the country and are reigning NCAA team champions. They are led by star sophomore Rose Zhang, reigning NCAA individual champion, among many other awards. The powerhouse Trees highlight a pack of teams that include other top-ranked schools, such as No. 11 USC. The Bears will look to come out of their break firing on all cylinders, hoping to crack the upper echelon of the country and vault themselves to the top with a grand showing this weekend.
Stanford Golf Course offers up 6,269 yards of tree-lined fairways and greens this weekend. Cal will play one round on each of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, seeking to come out of the weekend with a statement result behind them.