March 10, 2012
LAS VEGAS - Cal (286-287 - 573, -3) continued its strong play at the prestigious Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters on Saturday by extending its lead to six shots over host and second-place UNLV (287-292 - 579, +3). The Bears were the only team to break par Saturday at the par-72, 7,510 Southern Highlands Golf Club with a one-under par round that was four strokes better than the next best team score of 291 shot by Stanford.
"Like yesterday our guys hung tough," associate head coach Walter Chun said. "This golf course is so demanding from tee to green. It just beats you up mentally if you're not ready for it, but the way we've played these last two days show that these guys have prepared well and are mentally tough. It's fun to see and fun to be a part of it."
Ranked No. 7 in the nation by Golfstat and No. 10 according to Golfweek, Cal is one of 11 squads in the 15-team field ranked in the top 25 nationally.
"The way we've played the last two days shows that these guys can take on any team and any golf course," Chun said. "They really haven't gotten as much notoriety as some other high-ranked teams but they know they're good and they want to prove it. They want to show it to all the top teams and the college golf world. They're playing with a real determination to try and get some recognition."
"We're playing with a chip on our shoulder and I don't mind that," head coach Steve Desimone said.
Chun is serving as the team's head coach for the tournament while Desimone recovers from a health-related issue that prevented him from making the trip. Desimone is expected to be back with the team for its next event Mar. 18-20 at the Golf Coaches Association of America's Match Play Championship in Bradenton, Fla.
Keelan Kilpatrick (72-70 - 142, -2) led another strong team effort on Saturday with a two-under par 70 that was tied for the best round of the day on the demanding course. Kilpatrick moved up 15 spots into a tie for fourth place and is four shots behind second-round leader Logan McCracken (66-72 - 138, -6), gaining two strokes on the Texas Tech golfer.
Kilpatrick's round might have been even more special without a double bogey on the par-five ninth. He had five birdies, including three over a four-hole stretch on the front nine on the par-five third, and par-four fifth and sixth holes. He bounced back from his double bogey on nine with a birdie on the par-four 10th but immediately gave the stroke back with a bogey on the par-four 11th. He got back to two-under with a birdie on the par-four 14th.
"It just goes to show that this course is so demanding," Kilpatrick said when confirming that he had never seen a 70 tie for the best score of a round at a top-level tournament.
"I'm really pleased to see what he's doing, and I think he'll play well tomorrow," Desimone added about Kilpatrick.
Hagy moved up 11 spots Saturday with a one-under par 71 that included his national-leading eighth eagle of the season on the par-five 13th hole. Hagy needed the eagle to help offset three bogeys on the back nine, including each of the two previous holes, with the other on the par-four 15th. Hagy had got to two-under for the day with birdies on three of his final five holes on the front nine. After a first-hole bogey and three pars to start his round, Hagy would birdie five, seven and nine for a two-under par 34 at the turn.
Homa's round started with a birdie on the first hole and included 15 straight pars before his only bogey of the day on the par-three 17th. He made par on the 18th to finish at even for the day.
Joël Stalter (71-74 - 145, +1) dropped seven places into a tie for 17th after he was never quite able to recover from a double bogey on the par-five third hole. He would birdie five to get back to one-over but after five straight pars had back-to-back bogeys on 11 and 12 to put him three-over. He got a stroke back with a birdie on 13 but returned it by bogeying 14. He birdied 17 to finish at two-over for the day. Michael Kim (74-76 - 150, +6) had seven bogeys (4, 8, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17) but did manage three birdies (5, 9, 13).
The 54-hole event will conclude with the third and final round of action Sunday. The first tee time is scheduled for 9 a.m. PT, with Kim the first Cal player off the first tee at 10:30 a.m. PT. Stalter, Hagy, Homa and Kilpatrick are scheduled to follow in nine-minute intervals. The Bears will play in groups of three with each Cal player matched up with one each from second-place UNLV and third-place Texas A&M for the second consecutive day.
A year ago, Cal was also ahead by six shots heading into the third and final round of the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters before finishing third.
"We're in exactly the same position we were a year ago, but this is a different year and a different team," Desimone said. "Every one of these guys has won major events so when you look at where we are this is no surprise. I think we'll be very competitive tomorrow and if we do what we've done the first two days we should be on top, but nobody's going to give it to us."
Cal has already tied a regular-season school record with three team victories in 2011-12 and will break the mark with its next win.
Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters (hosted by UNLV)
TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 2 of 3 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 holes)
PLAYER LEADER BOARD - INDIVIDUAL LEADER (after 2 of 3 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 holes)
PLAYER LEADER BOARD - CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 2 of 3 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 holes)