After finishing fifth overall at the Meadow Club Invitational earlier this month, the Bears enjoyed a two week rest period after a tightly packed schedule that involved numerous unexpected delays and harsh weather conditions.
“I’m glad to have three tournaments behind us,” said head coach Nancy McDaniel. “We really learn a lot about our team, what we need to work on, and where our strengths are.”
This weekend marks the end for the break as Cal is set to participate in the Ping/ASU Invitational in Phoenix, Arizona hosted by ASU. The three-day tournament stretches from March 24 to 26 and takes place at the par-72, 6543-yard Papago Golf Club.
The Papago Golf Club will also be the venue for the Pac-12 Championships on April 17-18 this year. Hence, it is vital for the Bears to get some experience on this course in order to prepare themselves for one of the most important tournaments of the season.
Coaches and players alike will be pleased to hear that the weather forecast predicts three consecutive sunny days over the course of the tournament this weekend. It is safe to say there will be no rain or any harsh weather conditions, something that the Bears will most definitely not miss.
This 17-team tournament will feature seven of the nation’s top 15 such as Oregon (6), Mississippi State (7) and Texas (8). Unlike last year’s tournament, No. 2 ranked Stanford will not be participating this year. Despite Stanford’s absence, 26 golfers from the nation’s top 100 are expected to take part.
Cal’s lineup for this event consists of five talented golfers. Having finished in sixth overall and as Cal’s highest overall ranked golfer in the last tournament, junior Cristina Ochoa aims to keep the momentum going for the team.
Alongside Ochoa is graduate Annika Borrelli, who also had a promising performance in the last tournament. Borrelli’s exceptional climb up 32 positions at Meadow Club Invitational greatly illustrates her determination and grit. It is a testament to never count her out until the very last hit of the game.
Another experienced Cal golfer in junior Mika Jin is also expected to represent the Bears this weekend. Jin has been a part of the Cal team in every tournament thus far since the beginning of the spring season. Her much-needed experience contributed much to the team’s success this season as Jin continues to strive for a great performance.
Sophomore Kaylyn Noh will also be included in the line-up. Though this tournament marks the very first time she is included in the Cal main line-up, Noh is by no means new to the competition. Having participated in both Meadow Club and Causeway Invitational as an individual golfer and Cal’s B line-up, respectively, Noh is an experienced college golfer that performed consistently throughout each round of various tournaments.
The youngest member of the team is freshman Olivia Lee from the United Kingdom who was a member of Cal’s main line-up at the Causeway Invitational. In an interview with Cal Bears, head coach McDaniel stated that both Noh and Lee stepped up in the last qualifier and had a positive impact on the team.
With less than a month to go until the Pac-12 Championships, the Bears will need to keep their eyes on the prize. Having finished in the top 5 overall in every single tournament of the spring season, Cal will need to maintain its hot momentum while improving on its weaknesses.
For the Bears to succeed, they must hunt together. On the golf course, this means playing at their best, having a positive attitude and encouraging teammates to strive for perfection. Though the tournament ahead is filled with ferocious competition, one must not overlook the Bears’ determination to fight till the very end.