Independence, Minn. – Top-ranked Cal (291-281 – 572, +4) opened its 2013-14 season Sunday with 36 holes of action at the Gopher Invitational and will enter Monday’s third and final round in third place seven shots off the pace of second-round leader New Mexico (280-285 – 572, -3).
The Golden Bears were back in action Sunday for the first time since the team’s 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 previously established with the 10 victories recorded by the 1985-86 Oklahoma State team. 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.
Cal is playing its first tournament of the 2013-14 campaign hosted by Minnesota at the par-71, 7,152-yard Windsong Farm Golf Club without a pair of players returning from last season’s squad in Michael Kim and Michael Weaver. Along with former Golden Bear and 2012-13 collegiate teammate Max Homa, the duo contributed to a Team USA victory over Great Britain and Ireland at the prestigious Walker Cup that concluded Sunday.
Without Kim and Weaver in the lineup the Bears were 11 shots off the pace and tied for fifth after 18 holes Sunday but were able to move up to third place seven shots back after tying for the second-best team round over the final 18 holes.
“We had tough starts to each round, but we were able to fight out way back especially in the second round,” associate head coach Walter Chun said. “When you play 36 holes it’s a test not only physically but mentally, so it was great to see the guys post a great back nine this afternoon. It shows that this team has guts. It’s a new day tomorrow and hopefully we’ve saved our best for last.”
Head coach Steve Desimone, who has been at the Walker Cup on support of Homa, Kim and Weaver the last two days, will join the Bears at the Gopher Invitational on Monday.
Brandon Hagy (70-69 – 139, -3) led the way Sunday for Cal and is in fourth place overall two shots off the pace of co-second round leaders Corey Conners of Kent State (71-66 – 137, -5) and Nick Voke of Iowa State (70-67 – 137, -5). Hagy was an alternate for the Walker Cup team but did not participate in the event.
Hagy made a team-high-tying nine birdies Sunday, including birdies each time around on the par-five 12th and par-four 16th holes. He also birdied the par-four third and 11th his first time around the course, as well as the par-four fifth, eighth and 13th the second time. Hagy had three bogeys in each round, including the par-five ninth both times. He also bogeyed the par-four second and 14th in the first round, and the par-three seventh and par-four 15th on his second trip.
Joël Stalter (71-71 – 142, E) is tied for 10th after 36 holes, while Shotaro Ban (75-70 – 145, +3) fired a one-under par round on his second 18 holes to move up 14 spots into a tie for 18th. Pace Johnson (75-71 – 146, +4) is tied for 21st one shot behind Ban and Cameron Shaw (77-74 – 151, +9) is tied for 41st.
Stalter finished at even for the day after a pair of rounds that included matching Hagy’s nine birdies but also playing a single hole – the par-four sixth – in a total of six-over par with a quadruple bogey during the first round and a double bogey in the second. He also had bogeys on the par-three 10th hole in the first round and the par-four fourth and 14th holes in the second. His five first-round birdies came on the third, fourth, 12th, 13th and 16th holes. In the second round he totaled four birdies on the par-four first, the ninth, the 12th and the 15th.
Ban keyed his one-under par second round with an eagle on 12 and also had a birdie on seven along with two bogeys on four and six, and 14 pars. Most of Ban’s trouble in the first round came in successive fashion when he made four straight bogeys on the fifth through eighth holes. He totaled six bogeys, adding one each on the third and par-five 18th holes. His two first-round birdies came on the 10th and par-four 17th.
Johnson had a wild day that included an eagle also during the second round on the 12th hole, seven birdies, eight bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey. He birdied the first, eighth, 12th and 13th holes during his first round. In his second round he repeated his birdie on 13 then also birdied 17 and 18. Johnson bogeyed the fifth, seventh and ninth holes in his opening round and the first, second, third, 11th and 15th in his second round. His double and triple bogeys both came in his opening round on the third and 18th holes, respectively.
Playing in his first collegiate tournament, Shaw had three birdies, 10 bogeys and a double bogey. His birdie the first time through the course came on the 18th hole after he had previously bogeyed four, seven, 12, 15 and 17, and double bogeyed 16. He would birdie the 18th again during his second round and picked up another on the 12th. His four second-round bogeys came on four, six, 10, 14 and 16.
Cal begins third and final-round action Monday when Shaw is the first of five Cal players off the tee in 10-minute intervals at 5:35 a.m. PT. The event will get started at 4:45 a.m.PT.
GOPHER INVITATIONAL (HOSTED BY MINNESOTA)
MILTON, GA – WINDSONG FARM GOLF CLUB (PAR-71, 7,512 YARDS)
TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 1 of 2 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 stroke-play holes)
1. New Mexico (280-285 – 565, -3)
2. Kent State (289-279 – 568, E)
3. Cal (291-281 – 572, +4)
4. Baylor (278-295 – 573, +5)
5. Iowa State (295-281 – 576, +8)
6. Minnesota (291-287 – 578, +10)
T7. Notre Dame (289-292 - +13)
T7. Penn State (292-289 – 581, +13)
9. Michigan State (305-294 – 599, +31)
10. Toledo (301-300 – 601, +33)
11. Central Arkansas (306-296 – 602, +34)
12. St. John’s, MN (298-314 – 612, +44)
PLAYER LEADER BOARD (after 1 of 2 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 stroke-play holes)
T1. Corey Connors (Kent State) 71-66 – 137 (-5)
T1. Nick Voke (Iowa State) 70-67 – 137 (-5)
PLAYER LEADER BOARD – CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 1 of 2 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 stroke-play holes)
4. Brandon Hagy 70-69 – 139 (-3)
T10. Joël Stalter 71-71 – 142 (E)
T18. Shotaro Ban 75-70 – 145 (+3)
T21. Pace Johnson 75-71 – 146 (+4)
T41. Cameron Shaw 77-74 – 151 (+9)