WINDERMERE, Fla. – No. 4 ranked and defending champion Cal (284, -4) is tied for third place four shots off the lead after Sunday’s first round of the 2013 Isleworth Collegiate Invitational co-hosted by Texas Tech and UCF at the par-72, 7,544-yard Isleworth Golf & Country Club. Joël Stalter, who won the Alister MacKenzie Invitational in his most recent outing, is tied atop the leader board after the first round following a bogey-free six-under par 66.
“I played really well, and it was probably the best round of my college career,” Stalter said. “It feels great right now, but it’s only the beginning of a tough fight that’s coming.”
Stalter is tied with Alabama’s Trey Mullinax after both tied the course record set by Georgia’s Harris English in 2007. Stalter started on the 10th hole and birdied five of his first eight holes, including three in a row on the par-three 11th, par-four 12th and par-four 13th. He added his other two birdies during the run on the par-three 15th and par-five 17th. Stalter would add his sixth and final birdie on the par-four eighth.
Cal’s four scoring players led by Stalter combined to shoot 11-under par over their first eight holes before going seven-over par during their final 10 holes.
“We got off to a great start, but we hit the wall and really struggled in,” head coach Steve Desimone said. “We gave away some shots and before you know it we’re looking up the leader board a little bit, which is something we’re not used to.
Alabama (280, -8) is two strokes ahead of second-place UCF on the team leader board with California, Illinois (284, -4) and UNLV (286, -2) rounding out the top five. Arkansas and Vanderbilt are the other two teams under par seven shots out of the lead.
“The good news is that we’ve got two more rounds to go,” Desimone said. “Hopefully we can get this thing corrected and make a move.”
Michael Kim (T23rd, 72, E), Pace Johnson (T32nd, 73, +1), Michael Weaver (T32nd, 73, +1) and Brandon Hagy (T39th, 74, +2) also competed for the Bears.
Kim, the tournament’s defending individual medalist, birdied his first hole on the par-four 10th but double bogeyed the 11th to quickly go one-over. He would never get back in the red but did pull back to even par on three occasions with birdies on the 17th, par-three fifth and par-four ninth. His two bogeys came on the par-four fourth and eighth holes.
Johnson was three-under par and only two strokes behind Stalter after eight holes with birdies on the 13th, par-four 14th and 17th. However, he ended up one-over par after a double bogey on the 18th and bogeys on the fourth and eighth.
Weaver also had a strong start with four birdies over his first six holes on the 11th, 13th, 14th and 15th. But a bogey on the par-four 16th started a stretch in which he shot five-over par over his final 12 holes to end up one-over par overall. Weaver also bogeyed the par-four first and par-three second holes as well as the ninth. He had a double bogey on the par-five third but did manage a birdie on par-five seventh.
Hagy was five-over par through 11 holes before a run of four birdies and a bogey over the next five holes left him at two-over. He finished his round with five birdies (13, 3, 4, 6, 7), five bogeys (10, 15, 16, 1, 5) and one double bogey (2).
Cal will play along with Alabama and UCF in the final group during Monday’s second round. The first threesome is scheduled to start from the first tee beginning at 6:40 a.m. PT. Tee times for Tuesday’s third and final round will be announced following the conclusion of second-round action.
“Our team is still in the race, but we need to bounce back tomorrow and the day after if we want to win,” Stalter said. “I’m really confident about it and looking forward to it.”
“We’ve got 36 holes to go and we’re right there,” Desimone said.
Cal has won by 19, 30 and 22 strokes in its last three events. The Bears are coming off a historic 2012-13 season that is considered by many as one of the finest in the history of college golf when Cal won 12 of 14 stroke-play tournaments to set a modern-era NCAA single-season record. Cal was ranked No. 1 in the final 2012-13 team rankings by both Golfweek and Golfstat despite losing to Illinois in the match-play semifinals of the NCAA Championship. Among Cal’s victories during the season were second consecutive NCAA Regional (Pullman) and Pac-12 titles.
Cal has won 21 of its last 32 stroke-play events overall and finished in the top five in all 32.
ISLEWORTH COLLEGIATE INVITATIONAL (CO-HOSTED BY TEXAS TECH AND UCF) WINDERMERE, FLA. ISLEWORTH GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB (PAR-72, 7,544 YARDS)
TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 1 of 3 days/1 of 3 rounds/18 of 54 holes) 1. Alabama (280, -8) 2. UCF (282, -6) T3. Cal (284, -4) T3. Illinois (284, -4) 5. UNLV (286, -2) T6. Arkansas (287, -1) T6. Vanderbilt (287, -1) T8. LSU (288, E) T8. Texas (288, E) 10. Florida State (292, +4) 11. GRU Augusta (293, +5) T12. TCU (296, +8) T12. North Florida (296, +8) 14. New Mexico (297, +9) 15. Texas Tech (297, +9)
PLAYER LEADER BOARD – CO-INDIVIDUAL LEADERS (after 1 of 3 days/1 of 3 rounds/18 of 54 holes) T1. Joël Stalter (Cal) 66 (-6) T1. Trey Mullinax (Alabama) 66 (-6)
PLAYER LEADER BOARD – CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 1 of 3 days/1 of 3 rounds/18 of 54 holes) 1. Joël Stalter 66 (-6) T23. Michael Kim 72 (E) T32. Pace Johnson 73 (+1) T32. Michael Weaver 73 (+1) T39. Brandon Hagy 74 (+2)