Jan. 12, 2011
The California Golden Bear women's golf team opens up the spring portion of their 2010-11 schedule on Monday, Feb. 7 at the two-day Wildcat Invitational in Tucson. The Bears come in ranked seventh in the Golfweek team rankings and are boasting a 288.1 team average.
Cal had quite the successful fall season, going 4-for-4 in top-10 finishes including a team victory in Washington and a runner-up finish in Colorado. To head coach Nancy McDaniel, however, there was something even more important garnered in the early season: experience.
"The great thing about the entire fall season is that we put in play seven different players," said McDaniel. "It started with the CSU Ram Fall Classic at Ptarmigan in Colorado when we had two new faces in the lineup with Jackie Williams and Joi Pentin. Confidence-wise, that did a lot for us that we were able to finish strong with this combination of players."
The Bears next stop in the fall was the Mason Rudolph Championship in Tennessee where the Bears finished fifth in a field of 17 of the top teams in the nation. Halbig once again led the charge for the Bears, setting a new 54-hole record of 13 under (68-67-68) to win the individual medalist honors by three strokes.
"We had no expectations going to Vanderbilt," McDaniel said "We hadn't ever been there before and had never played that course. We knew the field was very strong and that we wanted to be competing amongst the nations' best and we were excited to have the opportunity. We finished fifth, but that last day of play was highly unsatisfying. After the second day, we had two teams that we hadn't been ahead of in a long time, USC and UCLA, but then it slipped away and we wondered `how did that happen'? We were so close. Back to the drawing board."
In the Bears third tournament of the season, the Edean Ihlandfeldt Invitational in Washington, there was no letting things slip away as Cal defended their title, earning the 22nd team victory in program history. Leading the way was individual medalist Emily Childs, who earned her first collegiate tournament win.
"The third tournament was a great effort from start to finish and everywhere in between. We were able to defend the championship from last year on a different course and we proved we were able to hold off a top program coming down the stretch and this was very satisfying. "
The Bears wrapped up the fall at the Pac-10/SEC Challenge at Stanford, coming in ninth place in a field that featured seven top-10 schools.
"Stanford was a disappointing finish for us, yet I think it will be fruitful in the spring."
The Bears now look ahead to their spring season with five regular-season tournaments prior to the Pac-10 Championships. The Bears will open in Arizona before playing twice in the Bay (at Stanford and in San Jose). They will head to San Diego, playing at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. They close the regular season at the PING/ASU Invitational, perhaps the most important tournament of the season as ASU's Karsten Golf Course will also host the Pac-10 Championships three weeks later.
"Staying in the moment is our goal," McDaniel answered when asked about her objectives for the spring. "We also want to continue to build on our short game percentage, taking that to another level. Everybody in the fall has a goal to improve their game by two shots. It was a lofty goal, but we satisfied it. I think that everyone feels a great pride in that. I also believe they are all ready and willing to put the necessary work in to make more improvement in the spring. We know what it takes and we have a plan in place to execute, it ought to be an exciting time for Cal golf."
Coach McDaniel on the players...
Emily Childs (Golfweek ranking No. 80) - Emily is ready for a challenge -- that is what has changed in her probably over the last six months. She has gotten a lot tougher, something she has been working on and that has come through. She keeps making solid progress in becoming a tougher player and knowing herself on the golf course. As a teammate, I think she is extremely supportive and always inclusive. We'll be looking to Emily next year for her leadership both off and on the course. She has been resilient. She didn't make all of the tournaments in the fall, but she backed it up with a 66 in qualifying. If it doesn't go her way, Emily will work harder. You need that in a teammate and a player.
Pia Halbig (Golfweek ranking No. 19) - Pia is going to leave a mark on Cal golf, not only as an athlete, by being one of the most decorated players we have ever had, but also as a student, a teammate, and a leader. You couldn't ask for more from a player and she does it by being completely organized. She takes organization to a whole new level. She is the one up at 6 a.m. on the road, when we have a half hour before we leave, doing her home work and getting in a little extra reading, yet she doesn't obsess over it. Her balance has been great this year. She is ready to go and take the spring on like she owns it.
Daniela Holmqvist (Golfweek ranking No. 64) - Daniela has grown a lot over the last six months from arriving here last January and being in a lineup that was new to her. I have really seen the transition from her from the spring to the fall as a teammate, as a player, with her mood and her mentality on the golf course. The greatest thing about it is she has been so willing to try new things, to step out of her box. She has had some good success this fall with a couple of rounds in the 60's and she will continue to get better with her personal work ethic and practice schedule.
Joanne Lee (Golfweek ranking No. 16) - We haven't seen the best from Joanne yet this year, but she is still the top-20 in the country, which is scary. She is our rock shown by her consistency. We can always rely on her. She hasn't been going too high and in the fall hasn't been going too low, which means there is definitely something coming from her down the stretch. She's done a good job of balancing things. If there is anyone who is going to step out next spring, it might be Joanne.
Joi Pentin - Joi has stepped up her game to a point where she might surprise people. She was one of our most prepared players. When you take her on the road, she is the one I look for to make sure everyone has everything and is prepared. She takes a great pride in traveling and being part of this team. That is how she won her place in the lie-up this fall. She has worked very hard and is not going to let that go. She's been tenacious in wanting one of those top-five spots, and she is off to a good start this season.
Nicola Rössler - Nico has been a lot of fun. She is one of the most organized freshmen that I have ever seen. She is the true student-athlete. Has a great balance with her academics and her sport. She knows exactly what she wants and is not afraid to ask for it.
Andrea Waters - Andrea has taken on a whole new leadership value to our team. She is running team meetings that really decide the near-future of our team. She has taken that upon herself. She has been a tremendously responsible player that I can always depend on. She knows what the team needs at the right time and she solicits their reactions and really has her finger on the pulse. I rely a lot on Andrea.
Jacqueline Williams - Jackie has been one of the most valuable players over the last 12 months. She has put us on the map with her enthusiasm and her organized work ethic. She inspires us all as players, coaches and human beings. She has stepped her game up to step everyone else's game up. She takes that upon herself. She is a player who makes everyone around her better and has been a great leader for us as a sophomore.