Oct. 13, 2009
FAIRFAX, Calif. -California won its second team tournament of 2009-10 and Stephen Hale won the Golden Bears' second individual title of the fall season when the Alister MacKenzie Invitational was forced to cancel Tuesday's final round at Meadow Club due to heavy and ongoing rain and winds, making the course unplayable.
The two rounds played yesterday made the seventh running of the MacKenzie an official NCAA event, and yesterday's action - with the Bears pulling in front of the first-round leading Oregon Ducks on the strength of a great 18 holes punctuated by fiery back nine - are now the final results.
"There wasn't a player that arrived at the golf course Saturday or Sunday that didn't know we were in for trouble today," said Bears head coach Steve Desimone about the unplayable conditions.
"Our highest priority was to get 36 holes in to make sure it was official and the players did a really good job getting around the course twice. We're really proud of the way we played. When the winds picked up, we just seemed to play better and better."
Cal finished at 23-under, five strokes ahead of Oregon, which held a seven-stroke lead after 18 holes. Colorado (-13), Oregon State (-12), Fresno State (-11) and defending champion San Diego State (-9) rounded out the top six.
Hale finished one stroke in front of SDSU's Johan Carlsson, with three players close behind at 7-under. The Ducks' Daniel Miernicki had a hole-in-one on the par-3 eighth hole during the second round.
Cal delivered the best turnaround on the day between the first and second rounds, scoring 11 shots lower in its second versus its first. Only five other teams - Colorado, Minnesota, Colorado State, Wisconsin, San Francisco - bettered their scores between the first and second rounds.
Hale caught fire after the turn in round one, sinking four birdies on the final five holes and adding eight more birdies for a dominant 64 in the second round to finish 10-under. Cal freshman Michael Weaver began both rounds with birdies and stayed focused after a double bogey to end round one, ending at 5-under (T8).
Junior Eric Mina birdied the par-5 first hole to start his day but slipped a bit with four bogies to end round one at 1-over, then settled down to fire four birdies in the second round and end the event at 3-under (T16). Chad Vivolo, a transfer junior, offset four bogies with six birdies for a 2-under finish to the first 18 holes, and ended up at 1-over after a five-bogey final round (T35). Redshirt freshman James Coré dug himself a hole with a five-bogey, 5-over first round before righting his ship just before what became the final turn of the MacKenzie, sinking a birdie on the eighth hole and adding four more for a 3-under final 18 and +2 result (T41). "Part of me says yes, it's great to win, but there's a bigger part of me that said I would have loved have seen us under pressure, respond, play 54 holes of really good golf and beat a very good field," said Desimone.
"But we've been on the short end of these; I think this is the first time we've been in position to win a rain-shortened event. It's another step in the right direction for us."
Of Hale's first-place performance, Desimone said the junior is "playing like he did when he was a freshman, very confident, hitting the ball well and putting great."
Hale previous individual title came at the John Burns Intercollegiate as a freshman in February 2008 in Honolulu. He and Mina, the Spartan Classic champion in September, are two of the nine different Bears who played in four tournament lineups this fall.
"One of the keys has been to give as many players a chance to play as possible, to see which of these guys can really put up some numbers and show they belong in the lineup," Desimone said.
"We're beginning to get a sense of what kind of team this is. We won twice but we didn't play very well at Northwestern, which was a real wakeup call for us. This is still a very young team."
Alister MacKenzie Invitational (Hosted by California)
Team Place: 1st (of 15 teams) - FINAL RESULTS (3rd Round Unplayable - Rain)