Sept. 9, 2012
WAYZATA, Minn. - Cal (No. 2 Golfweek, No. 3 Golf World/Nike) picked up right where the Golden Bears left off last season by dominating the field Sunday on the first day of the 2012-13 season opening Gopher Invitational at the par-72, 7,020 Spring Hill Golf Club. After 36 of the event's 54 holes, Cal (274-290 - 564, -12) has a 14-stroke lead over second place SMU (303-275 - 578, +2). Cal is the only team under par through the first two rounds and had the best team score of the day over the first 18 holes with a -14 under par 274.
"I don't know that we can play much better than we did this morning on a very difficult and very challenging golf course," head coach Steve Desimone said. "The game was much tougher in the afternoon and in many respects I was more proud of the way we hung in there this afternoon. The guys just kept fighting and fighting to stay in the round. It very easily could have slipped away and instead of finishing two over [in the second round] we easily could have finished eight, nine or 10 over and really opened the door to three or four teams."
"All in all day it was a great day," Desimone added. "If you had told me before we started today that we were going to be up 14 strokes after the first day with this field I would have been ecstatic. It's a great start to the season."
Max Homa (67-70 - 137, -7) leads the event by four strokes heading into Monday's third and final round. Homa trailed teammate Brandon Hagy (66-75 - 141, -3) by one shot after the first 18 holes with a round of 67 that included six birdies and one bogey. He finished on fire with three consecutive birdies on the first three holes of the golf course to close out his round after beginning on No. 4. Homa's first three birdies (No. 4, No. 8, No. 17) came on par threes, while he also had two on par fours (No. 1, No. 2) and one on a par five (No. 3). His lone bogey on No. 6 came on a par-four. He birdied three of the course's par fives (No. 5, No. 16, No. 3) and added another on par-four No. 12 in the second round. He gave two strokes back with a double bogey on par-four No. 10.
"Max did a great job," Desimone said. "He's been playing well for months now and he played strong today. I like his chances tomorrow. He knows how to play to win." Three other Cal players join Homa in the top five, with Hagy tied for second while Michael Kim (71-72 - 143, -1) and Michael Weaver (70-73 - 143, -1) are tied for fifth. Walker Huddy (76-78 - 154, +10) is also participating for the Bears and tied for 53rd.
Hagy started on the fifth hole and had six birdies on three par fours (No. 14, No. 15, No. 1), two par fives (No. 16, No. 3) and one par three (No. 11) without a bogey over his first 18 holes. He quickly got to five-over in his second round with bogeys on the par-five fifth and par-three eighth, and a triple bogey on the par-four 12th before getting two shots back with birdies on the par-four first and par-five third holes.
Kim had an unusually wild day with 10 birdies, six bogeys and a triple bogey for his one-under par total. His up-and-down rounds included positive stretches of three birdies (No. 1, No. 3, No. 5) over the final five holes of his first round, as well as three consecutive birdies (No. 14-16) during his second round. His triple bogey came on in the second round on No. 12 but was quickly followed by the three straight birdies.
Weaver was also up and down throughout the day with 10 birdies, seven bogeys and a double bogey. His two-under par 70 in the first round included four birdies (No. 10, No. 14, No. 18, No. 3) and two bogeys (No. 8, No. 12). He started his second round with a birdie on No. 7 and then got to three under for the round and five under for the tournament through his first six holes of the second round when he birdied No. 11 and No. 12. He gave one shot back with a bogey on No. 14 but then had back-to-back birdies on No. 15 and No. 16 to get to five-under for the round and seven-under on the day. But he would play the next seven holes in six over with a bogey on No. 17, a double bogey on No. 2 and three consecutive bogeys on No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5. He finished off his day with a birdie on No. 6.
Huddy had five birdies during his opening round that were offset by five bogeys and two doubles. He was only able to manage one birdie on his second 18, while making seven bogeys.
The final 18 holes of the Gopher Invitational hosted by Minnesota will be contested Monday with a shotgun start beginning at 8:30 a.m. EDT/5:30 a.m. PDT. Weather conditions are calling for a sunny and windy day, with winds out of the south expected at up to 21 miles per hour.
"We're going to have some really rugged conditions tomorrow - a very difficult golf course and very high winds," Desimone said. "It's going to be really tough to deal with, but fortunately we've got a good, solid lead. I like our chances. Let's hope we can come out of this with a team victory and an individual victory. Wouldn't that be a great way to start the season."
Cal tied for third last season at the 2012 NCAA Championship, its second-highest finish ever to the team's lone national title in 2004. The 2011-12 season was one of firsts for Cal, including its first trip to match play at the NCAA Championship as well as its first NCAA match play victory. Cal also captured its first NCAA Regional and Pac-12 titles, posted a school-record six wins to double the previous mark, and had top-five finishes in all 14 events for the first time in school history.
Gopher Invitational (hosted by Minnesota)
TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 1 of 2 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 holes)
PLAYER LEADER BOARD - INDIVIDUAL LEADER (after 1 of 2 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 holes)
PLAYER LEADER BOARD - CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 1 of 2 days/2 of 3 rounds/36 of 54 holes)
A full recap will follow.