WINDERMERE, Fla. – No. 4 ranked Cal (284-286-289 – 859, -5) wrapped up its 2013 fall season with a third-place finish at the prestigious Isleworth Collegiate Invitational co-hosted by Texas Tech and UCF at the par-72, 7,387-yard Isleworth Golf & Country Club. Top-ranked Alabama (280-272-286 – 838, -26) finished 21 strokes ahead of the defending champion Golden Bears and was 12 shots better than second-place UCF (282-281-287 – 850, -14).
“I’m disappointed we didn’t win but Alabama is a great team and Central Florida was playing at home,” head coach Steve Desimone said. “All in all it was a pretty good effort in a really good field.”
Cal had the third-best score of the day Tuesday one shot behind UCF and three behind Alabama in a field that included eight teams ranked in the top 25,
“We held pretty steady today,” Desimone said. “All in all it was a solid round for us. It was going to be tough for anybody to make any major moves both because of the weather conditions and the way the golf course was set up really tough. It would have been easy to fall if we had not played well.”
Joël Stalter (66-74-73 – 213, -3) finished in a tie for fifth eight shots off the total posted by individual medalist Trey Mullinax of Alabama (66-68-71 – 205, -11). Stalter and Mullinax had shared the lead following Sunday’s opening round when Stalter both fired bogey-free rounds of 66.
Stalter played the first half of the tournament without making a bogey and was at seven-under par through 27 holes before playing a wild second-round back nine Monday in three-over with two double bogeys, two bogeys and three birdies. He slid further on the leader board on the front nine during his third and final round Tuesday with a two-over par 38 following bogeys on the par-three fifth and par-four sixth but got both strokes back with birdies on the par-five 13th and par-four 16th before a bogey on the par-four 18th left him one-over for the round.
“I could not be happier,” Stalter said about his finishes at Isleworth and as a winner at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational in his previous event. “It rewards all of the hard work I have put in lately and motivates me to work even harder. I can’t believe this was my last fall season as a Golden Bear. Time flies but I’m looking forward to working hard and getting ready for the spring.”
Brandon Hagy (74-70-71 – 215, -1) had the best round by a Cal player for the second consecutive day and jumped 11 spots to finish tied for eighth, giving him top-10 finishes in each of his five fall events.
Hagy had a team-high five birdies Tuesday, picking all of them up over his final 12 holes. He had two early bogeys on the par-three second and par-five third holes before back-to-back birdies on the par-five seventh and par-four eighth started his hot streak. He cooled off with back-to-back bogeys on the par-four 10th and par-three 11th but got hot again with birdies on the par-four 12th and par-five 13th. He added his final birdie of the round on the par-five 17th.
“I didn’t get off to a good start, but I stayed with it and stayed patient the whole day,” Hagy said. “I’m really pleased with my fall season. I was extremely consistent and did a lot of good things in all parts of my game. It was nice to get another win [earlier in the fall at the Ohio State Invitational], and I’m looking forward to starting where I left off in the spring.”
Michael Weaver (73-71-72 – 216, E) moved up six spots to finish tied for 13th. Weaver birdied two of his final three holes (16, 17) after two earlier bogeys (2, 15) in an even-par round Tuesday.
Michael Kim (72-73-73 – 218, +2) ended the round nine spots higher than he started it, finishing tied for 18th. He had three birdies (1, 7, 13) and four bogeys (3, 4, 8, 14).
Pace Johnson (73-72-78 – 223, +7) had the toughest round for the Bears on Tuesday despite being even-par through 12 holes after both a pair of birdies (3, 6) and bogeys (5, 7) on the front nine. But Johnson would play the next three holes in six-over par with a double bogey on 13, a triple bogey on 14 and a bogey on 15 before finishing with three straight pars.
Cal will be out of action until opening its 2014 spring season January 27-28 at the Arizona Intercollegiate following a fall campaign that included three victories by a combined total of 61 shots, as well as third and fourth-place finishes over five events to give the Bears 21 victories over their last 33 stroke-play events since the beginning of the 2011-12 season and top-five finishes in all 32.
“This fall provided a measuring stick of what we need to work on to get ready for the spring,” Desimone said. “I would grade our fall season at an A-minus to an A. There were times when we played some tremendous golf.”
ISLEWORTH COLLEGIATE INVITATIONAL (CO-HOSTED BY TEXAS TECH AND UCF) WINDERMERE, FLA. ISLEWORTH GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB (PAR-72, 7,387 YARDS)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD – INDIVIDUAL MEDALIST (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes) 1. Trey Mullinax (Alabama) 66-68-71 – 205 (-11)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD – CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 3 of 3 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes) T5. Joël Stalter 66-74-73 – 213 (-3) T8. Brandon Hagy 74-70-71 – 215 (-1) T13. Michael Weaver 73-71-72 – 216 (E) T18. Michael Kim 72-73-73 – 218 (+2) T40. Pace Johnson 73-72-78 – 223 (+7)