BERKELEY – When Cal men’s golf coach Steve Desimone went to watch two-time All-American Peter Tomasulo at the Palmer Cup in 2003, he daydreamed about returning as the Team USA coach someday.
And when the Bears had three representatives in the event last year, Desimone knew he was close to making that daydream a reality.
One year later, the time has come.
Desimone will lead the United States against Europe in the 2014 Palmer Cup, which is essentially a Ryder Cup for college players. This year’s tournament, named after legendary golfer Arnold Palmer, begins Thursday at the Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey, England.
“It’s just awesome,” Desimone said. “Being a part of anything that has Mr. Palmer’s name on it is really special. It’s beyond special.”
The Americans won behind Tomasulo in 2003. Last year, former Cal stars Michael Kim and Max Homa were on the winning U.S. team and Joël Stalter played for Europe.
“When I went (in 2003), I said in the back of my mind, ‘Someday, I would love to do this’,” Desimone said.
After the Bears compiled what many feel was the best season in college history in 2012-13, Desimone was approached by the Golf Coaches Association of America at the NCAA Championships and was told he would have a good chance to lead the Palmer Cup team this year. Desimone finally got the call last December with the news he had the job.
“I can’t wait to get there,” Desimone said.
And Desimone will be coaching a familiar face this weekend. Cal All-American Brandon Hagy is part of the 10-man American team, giving the Bears four Palmer Cup players in the past two years.
Hagy was left off the team as the first alternate last year and is thrilled to be representing the United States in 2014.
“It was tough on him last year when he was the first alternate,” Desimone said. “In all honesty, he could have easily been chosen. Now having been part of the selection process, I can see just how difficult it is. I made it clear that I was taking Brandon. He’s more than earned it.”
Hagy was a first-team All-American as a senior this past season and won the prestigious Byron Nelson Award, given to a graduating senior exemplifying achievements in golf, academics, character and integrity.
“I am viewing the Palmer Cup as a culmination of my collegiate career and all the hard work that I have put in to get to this point,” Hagy said. “I think everyone on the team feels great pride to be putting on the red, white and blue and trying to win the cup for the USA.”
The Palmer Cup features 10 golfers to a side. Desimone and Hagy know many of the other players on the United States team from playing against them at top tournaments throughout the college season.
“It’s not easy taking 10 of the best players in college and melding that into a functioning team over a short period of time,” Desimone said. “The guys are all eager and all excited. The reception that I had with them and the comments we shared, I think we’ll be on the same page and be ready to play. All these guys know each other.”