June 1, 2010
OOLTEWAH, TN - Back at the NCAA Championships for the first time since winning its lone national title in 2004, Cal is in 15th place at the conclusion of the first day of action Tuesday at the par-72, 7,395-yard The Honors Course located in the suburbs of Chattanooga. The Golden Bears shot a five-over par round of 293 and are 10 shots off the five-under pace set by co-first round leaders Oklahoma State and Florida State with team scores of 283.
For the second consecutive season, the NCAA team champion will be decided by three rounds of match play, with the top eight teams from 54 holes of stroke play Tuesday-Thursday advancing to quarterfinal matchups Friday (9 a.m. EDT). The national semifinals are slated for Saturday (9:00 a.m. EDT), with the championship match set for Sunday (Noon EDT). The top eight spots are currently held by the co-leaders, Oregon (284, -4), Texas A&M (285, -3), Arizona State (286, -2), Clemson (286, -2), Florida (287, -1) and Augusta State (287, +1), with the Bears five shots back of the final match-play qualifying spot.
"My hope and goal for the first day was to get through the round competitive and get through what clearly were some first-year jitters," said Cal head coach Steve Desimone about his lineup that features three freshmen and no players with previous experience at the NCAA Championships. "All in all, we're very pleased with what has gone on so far. The goal Wednesday is to hold steady and be in a position to make a run for the final eight on Thursday."
The Bears drew one of the earliest tee times for Tuesday's first round with only three teams having a player get started before Eric Mina drove off the 10th tee at 7:20 a.m. EDT. Max Homa, Stephen Hale, Brandon Hagy and Michael Weaver would follow over the next 38 minutes.
Mina and Hagy led the Cal effort by firing even-par rounds of 72, with the duo part of a group of 16 players tied for 36th place but only four shots back of co-leaders Jesper Kennegard (Arizona State) and Henrick Norlander (Augusta State). The 156-player field consists of five players from each of the 30 teams and six individuals.
Mina was briefly on top of the leader board after making birdie on each of his first two holes (10 and 11); including a 60-foot putt he drained on his first hole of the day. But a double bogey on 15 and a bogey on 17 gave him a one-over par score of 37 over his first nine holes. On his second nine, he shot a 35 with three birdies (2, 5, 6), four pars and two bogeys (4, 7). Three of Mina's birdies came on par-fives, with the fourth on a par-four. His double-bogey and two of his bogeys came on par-fours, while his other bogey was on a par-five.
"I got off to a really solid start with the quick birdies, but unfortunately had a double on 15," said Mina. "It was really an up-and-down round, a lot of birdies and a lot of bogeys, but overall solid play."
"This course sets up well for Eric," added Desimone. "He had a lull in the middle of the round, but he also made some really smart and really good plays."
Hagy shot a score of 36 both going out and coming back in with identical nines of two birdies, five pars and two bogeys. He bogeyed his fourth hole of the day (13) but birdied two of his next four (14, 17) to briefly move to one-under par, before a bogey on the next hole (18) put him back at even-par. He got back to one-over with a bogey on the fourth hole, before back-to-back birdies on the fifth and sixth holes returned him to one-under. He finished the day even after a bogey on eight. Two of his four birdies came on par-fives, while he added one each on a par-four and a par-three. Three of his four bogeys were on par-fours with the other on a par-three.
"Brandon admitted to a few butterflies early, but he got them out after the first two or three holes, and went on to play some really steady golf," said Desimone.
Hale was amazingly consistent during his two-over par round of 74, making 14 consecutive pars to start his day before two bogeys (6, 7), a birdie (8) and another bogey (9) over his final four holes. His birdie came on a par-three, while two of his bogeys came on par-fours and the other on a par-five.
The three-over par round of 75 shot by Weaver was in sharp contrast to Hale's, as Weaver needed his four birdies to help ease seven bogeys. Weaver bogeyed two of his first three holes (10, 12), birdied his next (13), then had a bogey (15) and a birdie (17) over his next four holes to finish his first nine with a one-over par 37. He started his second nine of 38 with two bogeys over his first four holes (2, 4), but then birdied two in a row (5, 6) to get back to one-under par for the day, before bogeying his next two (7, 8) to finish at three-over. He had only seven pars during the round.
"The rounds played by Stephen and Michael had similarities in that they both had a very difficult time putting," said Desimone. "They both played decently and had a lot of chances."
Homa's round of seven-over par 79 both started and ended tough with a brief stretch of brilliant play in between. Homa was out in 41 with five bogeys (11, 12, 13, 15, 18). However, he started his second nine on fire with birdies on three of his first four holes (1, 2, 4), before two bogeys (5, 6), a double bogey (7) and another bogey (8) left him with a 38. Two of his birdies came on par-fours with the other on a par-five, while his eight bogeys came on five par-fours, two par-fives and a par-three. His double-bogey came on a par-four.
The second round of action during the 54-hole stroke play portion of the event hosted by the University of Chattanooga gets underway at 7 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, but Cal will not have a golfer on the course until Mina tees off at 12:30 p.m. EDT, and is followed in order by Homa, Hale, Hagy and Weaver.
NCAA Championships (Hosted by Chattanooga)
*TEAM STANDINGS (after 1 of 3 days of stroke play/1 of 3 rounds of stroke play/18 of 54 holes of stroke play)
TOURNAMENT CO-LEADERS (after 1 of 3 days/1 of 3 rounds/16 of 54 holes)