The Cal men’s golf season has officially commenced. From Sept. 10 to Sept. 12, the Bears traveled to the Mirabel Golf Club in Scottsdale, Arizona, facing off against 15 teams at the Maui Jim Intercollegiate.
After ending last year’s season with a seventh-place finish in the Pac-12 championships, the Bears are ready to get back into the swing of things and work towards a 2021 Pac-12 championship title.
Redshirt freshman Ethan Chung represented the Bears for the first time on the green this weekend. Teeing off at 8 a.m. Friday, Chung’s strong debut included three birdies in his first five holes, only one bogey throughout the entire course and three-under-par with his fourth birdie of the round coming on the 10th hole. Chung recuperated as he finished his last nine with eight consecutive pars, representing the blue and gold with talent and skill.
Chung’s teammates, sophomore Sampson Zheng and redshirt sophomore Costas Panay, hopped into round two tied for 37th place, as senior James Song shot Cal’s final swings. Song recorded the Bears’ only eagle Friday and closed out the round tied for 57th place after shooting 72 (+2). Zheng tied Song for the lowest score on the same day, and both helped lead the Bears into Saturday’s rounds ranked eighth in the tournament.
The next morning, Panay made history in achieving a career-low 65 (-5 strokes), placing him as the lowest scoring Bear and 13th overall in a 90-person field. Such a performance carried over to the rest of the team: Redshirt freshman Tony Chen recorded the second-lowest score for the Bears of 68 (-2) to rank 53rd in the tournament, Zheng finished with a 69 (-1) that included three birdies to tie for 38th and Chung finished the second round with one-over-par to tie for 33rd.
The team saw gradual improvement from Friday to Saturday, shooting a combined 273 (-7) strokes, lessened by six strokes from the first round to the second. Going into the third round Sunday, the Bears delivered the second-highest number of eagles in the tournament to solidify their golfing prowess in the Maui Jim Intercollegiate.
After coming into the day ranked seventh place, the blue and gold closed out the tournament Sunday, finishing in 12th place (835, -5). Panay held up as the team’s lowest scorer, tying for 24th in the tournament. He was followed by Chen, who delivered consecutive under-pars Saturday and Sunday and tied for 52nd with fellow teammate Chung.
The conclusive fall in rank took a toll on the team’s morale, but will likely motivate them to provide a better delivery next tournament. The Bears will be traveling to Olympia Fields, Illinois, to tee off against the Fighting Illini in the OFCC/Fighting Illini Invitational from Sept. 17 to Sept. 19, ready to make Bear fans proud.
Alisa Steel covers men’s golf. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.