After rough beginnings, Cal men’s golf turned its season around, breaking through the competitive ranks to see its first ascension to the top. The Bears ranked No. 7 at the Hamptons Intercollegiate, one of their last tournaments of the fall season. The blue and gold have reason to celebrate after such an immense growth in both their scores and their team spirit.
The Bears presented a refined lineup in the tournament, showcasing the talents of graduate student Finnigan Tilly, redshirt sophomore Constas Panay, redshirt freshman Ethan Chung and freshman Simon Kwon.This balance of new and old talent carried the Bears throughout the weekend spent in East Hampton, New York.
Sandwiched in between Yale and Loyola Maryland, Cal walked away with a combined score of 898 +34.
“We had a slow start to the season, but one of the most important things is that we have been slowly improving over the past three events,” Tilly said.
Tuesday’s rounds served as a breakthrough for the Bears, showcasing the hard work and development the team has worked for all fall.
The weekend’s top scorer was Chung, a consistent leader of the Bears this season on the course. Delivering 223 (+7) strokes and scoring three birdies in his final six holes on Tuesday’s final round, Chung placed 30th in the tournament to take first place for the Bears.
Tilly and Panay followed Chung’s successful trajectory. Both golfers delivered their lowest scores of the weekend during Tuesday’s final round, shooting two under par (70) in the final 18 holes of the tournament. Tilly’s and Panay’s mirroring scores tied them at 34th place of the 72-person field competing in the tournament and contributed Cal’s lowest producing round, shooting a combined 286 (-2) strokes.
Placing closely behind Tilly and Panay was Kwon, shooting 72 (E) with four birdies in the final round of the tournament. Representing the blue and gold for only his second tournament, Kwon delivered his best shots in the last nine holes of the final round, three of them being birdies. Tying for 44th, Kwon’s final success pushed the Bears toward their No. 7 rank.
While the Bears outperformed their past selves, it’s important to highlight Tilly’s leading collection of birdies this weekend, which amount to a total of 16 — second to only one other person competing in the tournament.
“I would say my success comes from probably a lot of hard work and a lot of experience in college tournaments,” Tilly said. “Some of the takeaways would be to stay patient and positive and focus more on the things that I can control.”
This weekend was evidence of the Bears’ perseverance to seek success. Though it struggled in their competition at other courses this season, Cal has officially bounced back and is on the rise to the top.
“It was good to post a solid final round and I’m proud of the guys for bouncing back,” Alex and Marie Shipman Director of Men’s Golf Walter Chun said.
Looking forward to the final tournament of the fall season, the Bears are preparing for the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational from Oct. 17-19 at Isleworth Golf and Country Club in Windermere, Florida.
The blue and gold is on the rise right now — for Cal fans, it’s better late than never.
Alisa Steel covers men’s golf and women’s swim and dive. Contact her at email@example.com.