Oct. 16, 2012
FAIRFAX, Calif. - Top-ranked Cal (265-268-273 - 806, -46) continued its torrid start Tuesday by closing out a fourth consecutive victory to open the season at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational hosted by the Golden Bears at the par-71, 6,759-yard Meadow Club. Cal has won its own tournament for four consecutive seasons and seven times in 10 tries since the event began in 2002. Brandon Hagy (64-62-198, -15) recorded his first collegiate win to lead the way. Cal had the best team score in each of the 54-hole event's three rounds, including an 11-under mark Tuesday to pull away from second-place San Francisco (270-272-284 - 826, -26) for a 20-stroke victory.
"Our guys basically did the same stuff they've been doing," head coach Steve Desimone said. "They hit a lot of good shots, putted pretty well and made some good decisions on the golf course. When you add all that up you've got a pretty good team and this is obviously a great golf team, no doubt about it."
Hagy started the day with a five-stroke lead over San Francisco's Taylor Travis, who made a run at Hagy on the back nine to pull within two shots after 15 holes. But Hagy would respond with a birdie on the par-four 16th to extend his lead back to three. Both players would make bogey on 17 and par 18.
"Brandon has learned how to win and he closed the deal today beautifully," Desimone said.
Hagy started his round with a birdie on the par-five first hole and would make par on 13 of 18 holes, while taking bogeys on the par-four third and sixth.
"It feels really good to get my first collegiate victory," Hagy said. "Obviously a lot of hard work went into it, and I have to thank my teammates because we all push each other to get better. I also just used the experience from some of the amateur tournaments that I've won to stay patient today and pull out the victory."
Both Cal and Hagy came up just shy of tournament records with the Bears two strokes short of the 48-under par total of 804 they registered to win the 2010 event. Hagy was three shots off the pace of Oregon's Eugene Wong, who set the event's individual low mark with an 18-under par 195 as the individual medalist at the 2011 tournament to help the Ducks share the title with the Bears.
Hagy had plenty of support from his teammates throughout the tournament and in particular during Tuesday's final round when all four Bears other than Hagy shot round in the 60's, with his one-over par round the score dropped by the Bears in the team score.
"It speaks to how deep our team is," Hagy said. "That's pretty incredible, but to be honest I'm not surprised at all. Every time I looked around someone was making a putt. We basically have five guys that can win each tournament individually. When you have that in the back of your mind it just gives you a little more confidence."
Joël Stalter (70-65-68 - 203, -10) tied for third five shots back of Hagy, while Michael Kim (64-71-69 - 204, -9) was a stroke behind Stalter in a fifth-place tie with Max Homa (67-70-68 - 205, -8) a shot back of Kim in a tie for seventh. Michael Weaver (70-72-68 - 210) matched the team-low rounds of 68 posted by Homa and Stalter on Tuesday to vault up 20 spots in the final standings and finish tied for 14th. Stalter had his second eagle of the tournament when he made three on the par-five 13th. He spread his three birdies evenly across each type of hole on the par-three eighth, par-four 10th and par-five 15th. His two bogeys came on the par-three fifth and 17th.
"I'm really happy about my third-place finish in the tournament," Stalter said. "It just shows that working hard really pays off. But most importantly I'm really happy for the team because I think we deserve the success, and of course a big shout out to my roommate Brandon Hagy for winning his first collegiate tournament. Hopefully we'll keep it up for Isleworth."
Kim started his round with an eagle on the first hole and also posted a pair of birdies on the eighth and 13 holes, as well as a pair of bogeys on the sixth and par-four ninth holes to go along with his 13 pars.
Homa's round was highlighted by four straight birdies on holes 13 through 16, with his birdie on the par-three 14th the only one by a Cal player in the tournament. The other two of his six birdies that were more than any other Cal player on the day came on the first and eighth holes. His bogeys occurred on the sixth, 10th and 18th holes - all par fours.
"It was awesome for Brandon to win today and for the team to keep the momentum going into such a prestigious tournament like Isleworth," Homa said. Weaver was the third Cal player with an eagle, match Stalter's on 13. He also birdies on the first, fifth and par-four seventh, while he bogeyed the par-four second and fourth holes.
"Today's was awesome since it was such a huge margin for the team and Brandon's first victory," Weaver said. "We are 4-for-4 and we know with a good week next week we can go 5-for-5 for the fall. We are on a roll now and hope to keep up the great play through next week."
Cal will close out its 2012-13 fall schedule by taking its school-record win streak of four in a row to open the season to the prestigious the 54-hole Isleworth Collegiate Invitational. The event hosted by Texas Tech is scheduled for Oct. 21-23 at the Isleworth Golf & Country Club in Windermere, Fla.
"It's nice to have the momentum we have going into this next week," Desimone said. "Isleworth is one of the top three or four events of the year in college golf outside the NCAA Championship. We played well there last year and this team is a much, much better team than what we had a year ago. I think we have a real shot at making this five in a row. But win, lose or draw at Isleworth, we've certainly positioned ourselves well heading into the spring. The players have a great deal of confidence. They're comfortable with what we're doing and how we're doing it, and that certainly bodes well for the future."
Cal has now won at least a share of the team title in 10 of its last 18 events and finished in the top five in all of them dating back through the entire 2011-12 season when the Bears tied for third at the NCAA Championship, its second-highest finish ever to the team's lone national title in 2004. Last season was one of firsts for Cal, including a first trip to match play at the NCAA Championship as well as a first NCAA match play victory, NCAA Regional title and Pac-12 crown. Cal also posted a school record six wins to double its previous mark and had top-five finishes in all 14 events for the first time in school history.
Ironically, Hagy is the first Cal player to win individual medalist honors during the stretch with Homa recording the most recent win by a Cal player when he shared the title at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate in the spring of 2010. The last Cal player to win a tournament outright was Eric Mina's victory at the 2009 Pac-10 Championship.
"Basically our goal is to win every round and win every tournament," Hagy said. "We want to play against the best competition. We've seen Alabama and Texas, and some of the other top teams. We know now that we have a little bit of a bullseye on our back now. That's fine, we welcome that. We know we've worked hard in practice to get to that point. We all have a lot of confidence in each other."
Alister MacKenzie Invitational (hosted by Cal)
FINAL TEAM LEADER BOARD (after 2 of 2 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)
FINAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD - INDIVIDUAL MEDALIST (after 2 of 2 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)
INDIVIDUAL PLAYER LEADER BOARD - CAL INDIVIDUALS (after 2 of 2 days/3 of 3 rounds/54 of 54 holes)