BERKELEY, Ca. - Coming off its most successful fall season in the brief three-year history of the program, the University of California women's golf team continues on its course of steady improvement.
Directed by head coach Nancy McDaniel, the Golden Bears feature their largest and most talented roster, which should bode well for the 1998 spring season. The returning corps includes four juniors and three sophomores, who are joined by five promising freshmen to provide a solid nucleus of talent.
"It's a group of first class young women, not only as golfers, but as students and members of the community," said McDaniel. "That is what our program is all about, developing our people into well-rounded student-athletes."
The Golden Bears developed rapidly this fall, achieving a milestone in the third tournament of the 1997 fall season by winning their first tournament title ever, capturing the Blue Rock Springs Invitational in Vallejo. Sophomore Lisa Yamane claimed her first victory as a collegian, shooting a two-day total of 157, and capturing the individual title with a birdie on the first playoff hole. The Bears dominated the event at Blue Rock Springs, capturing five of the top six places, with sophomore Nicole Bolter taking third place and junior Eden Anderson and freshmen Katie Bakken and Cheryl Lala all tying for fourth place.
In three of the four other fall tournaments, the Bears showed great improvement over last fall's results in terms of the final team score, although it did not always translate into a better team finish. At the highly competitive Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational, the Golden Bears finished 11th, despite dropping 33 strokes off their previous year's score at that tournament. The results were similar at the Stanford Invitational, as the Bears dropped 26 strokes off last year but finished in 17th place against a full field of nationally-ranked teams. During the five fall tournaments, the Bears recorded a 317.4 scoring average, easily a school record (old record 324.7).
"I'm not so concerned about where we finish in these tournaments as long as we continue this steady rate of improvement.," McDaniel explained. "As we continue to progress steadily over the next few years, we will be right where we want. We are well on our way towards building a program that can compete with the best in the Pac-10."
Leading the group of returning players is sophomore Lisa Yamane, who was consistently the Bears top finisher a year ago, posting the team's best scoring average (80.5) and earning team MVP honors. Yamane went on to compete in the U.S. Women's Amateur in Massachusetts and played in the local qualifier for the U.S. Women's Open last summer.
Yamane and junior Eden Anderson shared honors this fall by each posting a school-record 79.5 scoring average. Last season, Anderson earned three Top 20 finishes and was named to the NCGA Academic All-America team. Anderson and sophomore Elisa Echeverria went on to earn valuable international experience last summer, as Anderson traveled with a Pac-10 All-Star team throughout Asia, and Echeverria competed at the World Student Golf Championship Pacific Rim Tournament in Japan.
Completing the group of returning players for the Bears are sophomore Nicole Bolter, who posted three Top 25 finishes a year ago, and juniors Annie Donnelly, Poppy Evans and Tara Fox.
As for the newcomers, freshman Cheryl Lala emerged as one of the Bears top players, finishing third on the team in scoring average (80.0) including a 10th place finish at the Northwest Invitational. Lala came to Cal as the 1997 Northern California High School champion, while freshman Heather Bruno finished third at that event. The Bears welcomed their first out-of-state golfer this fall, with freshmen Katie Bakken joining the team from Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. In addition, Cal's first international golfer, freshman Ann Walker from Scotland and another out-of-state golfer, Wendy Wang from Kirkland, Wash., joined the team this spring.
"It is a very exciting time to be involved in Cal golf as the program continues to build," said McDaniel. "I look forward to the next few seasons as the team matures and the improvement speaks for itself. This year's team should help establish a solid foundation for the future, and I'm looking forward to an exciting season."