Despite its ambition to qualify for the NCAA championship, Cal crumbled under pressure at the Palm Beach Gardens Regional last week at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Although Cal’s performance prior to the competition illustrates a considerable improvement from its mid-season slump, the Bears wrapped up the 12-team NCAA regional in 10th place.
The Bears began the tournament with a very rough start. Two of the most consistent and decorated golfers of the team, junior Cristina Ochoa and graduate student Annika Borrelli, struggled significantly as they finished the day, tying for 59th and 34th, respectively. Junior Mika Jin also tied at 34th alongside Borrelli.
Cal’s two freshmen, however, stepped up for the Bears and performed considerably well on the first day.
Freshman Adora Liu shined once again as she completed round one as the highest-ranked Cal golfer with a 1 over 73, which put her tied at 11th overall. Behind her in the ranking was freshman Olivia Lee, who finished the day tied at 25th. Monday concluded with the two freshmen as the two highest-ranked Bears, with Cal finishing 10th place.
Tuesday proved to fare slightly better for Cal as the senior Bears stepped up to the challenge. Borrelli climbed up 11 rankings while shooting 1 under 71 in the second round. This put her in 21st overall alongside Liu.
Jin and Lee, on the other hand, struggled on the second day as they concluded Tuesday in tied at 42nd and 45th overall, respectively.
Tuesday resolved with the Bears in ninth place after moving up one spot in the overall team ranking, which kept a top five finish within striking distance.
In the third and final round of the tournament, the Bears’ efforts to finish in the top five positions to qualify for the NCAA championship failed monumentally. Despite Borrelli’s exceptional performance in the last round, which put her tied at 19th overall, Cal finished in 10th place behind Alabama.
Coming in after Borrelli as the second highest ranked Cal golfer of the tournament was Jin, who came in 36th overall. Liu and Lee, despite their strong start on Monday, finished the tournament in 42nd and 43rd overall, respectively.
Cal’s failure to finish in the top five positions undoubtedly means it will not be able to qualify for the NCAA championship this season. Michigan State, Duke, Texas, Northwestern and LSU emerged as the victorious five teams which will be moving into the next round.
Despite a promising start to the spring season, it seemed as if the Bears never recovered from their mid-season setbacks. Inconsistency around the greens was the main culprit in prohibiting the Bears from achieving their goals this season.
The result in Palm Beach is not the only disappointment that the Bears and their fans will be facing. With this season coming to an end, the Bears will have to say goodbye to many veteran players.
Kristine Tran, Tzu-Yi Chang, Jasmine Lew and the aforementioned Borrelli will all be graduating from UC Berkeley as this academic year comes to a close. Cal women’s golf will look much different come next spring. Despite the disappointing ending in Palm Beach, time will tell if a new cast of Bears will be able to pick up where the 2023 season left off.