SONOMA, Calif. – No. 4 Cal (268-273-284 – 825, -39) closed out its third consecutive dominant victory Tuesday with a 22-stroke win at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational the Golden Bears co-hosted with San Francisco at the par-72, 7,103-yard Sonoma Golf Club. Joël Stalter (64-69-70 – 203, -13) earned individual medalist honors for the third time in his collegiate career, finishing one shot ahead of Oregon State’s David Fink (69-67-68 – 204, -12).
“I’m really happy that the team won,” Stalter said. “Individually, it’s great to have my name on the MacKenzie trophy next to other guys who have our own event for us before. It’s pretty special.”
“This was another great day by the Golden Bears,” head coach Steve Desimone said. “It wasn’t our finest hour, but we played solid golf all day.”
The Bears won their own event for the fifth consecutive season and eighth time in its 11-year existence.
Pace Johnson (66-68-71 – 205, -11) and Brandon Hagy (70-64-72 – 206, -10) finished third and tied for fourth to give Cal three of the top four individuals. Michael Weaver (68-73-71 – 212, -4) and Keelan Kilpatrick (76-72-72 – 220, +4) also competed for the Bears, finishing tied for 12th and tied for 48th.
Stalter started Tuesday’s third and final round one stroke ahead of both Hagy and Johnson and was three up on Fink, who fired a four-under par 68 that on Tuesday equaled the second best round of the day but bogeyed the final two holes playing five groups ahead of Stalter.
Stalter took advantage of the opportunity and moved into the lead for good when he birdied the par-five 16th. Stalter used an unusual tactic on his third shot when he pulled out a putter from the fairway about 15-20 yards from the pin with about 10 yards of fairway and five or six yards of green to work with.
“I was about 15-20 yards from the pin with about 10 yards of fairway and five yards of green to work with so because the greens were getting really firm instead of using my wedge I decided to use my putter,” Stalter said. “It was kind of a European-style shot, but I felt really comfortable with that kind of shot and hit it to within about two feet.”
Stalter learned after the birdie that he was one shot ahead and made pars on each of the last two holes to close out the victory that came after he did not make the lineup for the team’s previous tournament September 29-30 at the Jack Nicklaus Invitational.
“I was not going to dwell about the decision not to take me to the previous tournament,” Stalter said. “I just started working on my game. I worked really hard the last two weeks, and I wanted to try to get back in the lineup as quickly as I could. It’s really a great feeling to bounce back with a win.”
“It was great to see Joël win,” Desimone added. “He’s been working hard and got himself back into the lineup. He did a lot of good things in all areas of the game.”
Stalter bogeyed his first hole of the day but came back with back-to-back birdies on the second and third holes. He picked up another on eight before a bogey on 14 that set up his dramatic 16th hole birdie.
Johnson was also in the running for the individual title after a birdie on the par-five 13th got him to 12-under par for the tournament and three-under for the round. But Johnson would fall out of serious contention after a double bogey on the par-three 14th before he birdied the 16th to get one stroke back. On the front nine, Johnson had two birdies on the third and eighth holes, and a bogey on the seventh.
“It’s great to get yet another team victory,” Johnson said. “We are on a great run, and I’m really happy for the entire team. Now it’s time to get back, have a few solid days of practice and try to finish off the fall in the same fashion as the team did last year.”
Hagy had an up-and-down even-par round Tuesday that included five birdies (3, 8, 9, 13, 16) and five bogeys (1, 4, 7, 10, 14).
“It was another solid tournament for me,” said Hagy, who was the Pac-12 Men’s Golfer of the Month in September and now has finished in the top four in each of his first four events in 2013-14. “I never really got anything going today, but I’m really excited for Joël. He’s worked really hard the last few weeks. The team is gaining momentum, which is exactly what we want going into Isleworth.”
Weaver had two birdies (2, 13) and one bogey (7) during his round, while Kilpatrick had four birdies (5, 9, 13, 16) and four bogeys (1, 4, 7, 10).
Cal will next be in action October 20-22 in its final event of the fall season at the prestigious Isleworth Collegiate co-hosted by Texas Tech and Central Florida at the Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Windermere, Fla. Cal will be looking to both defend its title and win for the fourth straight time overall.
“We feel very good going into Isleworth,” Desimone said. “We’re really looking forward to the challenge. There will be lots of great teams there, and it should be a tremendous tournament. This will be the best field of the fall.”
Cal has won by 19, 30 and 22 stroke victories in its last three events after a fourth-place showing in its season-opener. 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.
ALISTER MACKENZIE INVITATIONAL (CO-HOSTED BY CAL AND SAN FRANCISCO) SONOMA, CALIF. SONOMA GOLF CLUB (PAR-72, 7,103 YARDS)
FINAL TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 2 of 2 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes) 1. Cal (268-273-284 – 825, -39) 2. UC Davis (286-284-277 – 847, -17) 3. Oregon State (287-283-280 – 850, -14) T4. Brigham Young (290-274-287 – 851, -13) T4. Arizona State (281-281-289 – 851, -13) T6. Oregon (282-280-292 – 854, -10) T6. Colorado (288-282-284 – 854, -10) 8. San Diego State (282-292-281 – 855, -9) 9. Minnesota (286-283-288 – 857, -7) 10. San Francisco (296-285-286 – 867, +3) 11. Colorado State (291-288-294 – 873, +9) 12. Pepperdine (291-297-286 – 874, +10) 13. Santa Clara (298-292-290 – 880, +16) 14. Fresno State (294-290-299 – 883, +19) 15. San Jose State (297-290-299 – 886, +22) 16. Hawai’i (300-297-298 – 895, +31)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD – INDIVIDUAL MEDALIST (after 2 of 2 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes) 1. Joël Stalter (Cal) 64-69-70 – 203 (-13)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD – CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 2 of 2 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes) 1. Joël Stalter 64-69-70 – 203 (-13) 3. Pace Johnson 66-68-71 – 205 (-11) T4. Brandon Hagy 70-64-72 – 206 (-10) T12. Michael Weaver 68-73-71 – 212 (-4) T48. Keelan Kilpatrick 76-72-72 – 220 (+4)