2002-03 Cal Women's Golf Outlook
Jan. 9, 2003
BERKELEY - The California women's golf team is the real deal.
With each tournament win and each record set, fewer people are surprised by the success of the Golden Bears. Since the program's inaugural 1995-96 season, Cal has taken strides towards proving its place on the national scene. The climb started with its first NCAA regional selection in 2000 and has continued with back-to-back appearances at the NCAA championships. After placing 19th at the 2001 NCAAs, Cal improved to 15th last season.
The program has won 10 tournaments all-time with five of them occurring in 2002. The Bears won three of their four fall events, including a three-peat at the Oregon State Invitational, a title at the nationally-loaded Stanford Intercollegiate and an 18-stroke victory at Hawaii's Kent Youel Invitational. The Hawaii title also saw the team set new school records for 36 (581) and 54 (870) holes.
If Cal can consistently shoot low scores, head coach Nancy McDaniel feels her squad has the experience to handle the pressure of nationals and challenge for the national title. Add those factors to Cal's depth and anything is possible.
'We have seven players who are all averaging under 77,' said McDaniel, the 2002 NGCA West Regional Coach of the Year. 'This depth is rare on any team. It keeps the Bears on their toes within the team framework, and that in turn translates into a very strong team when we hit the road. That's valuable.'
Heading into the spring, Cal is averaging 295.2 strokes per round, which is on pace to level last season's school record of 299.3. Since the team's inception, the Bears have cut 38.3 strokes off their team average. After the fall season, the team ranks No. 2 nationally for score vs. par (6.17), according to Golfstat.
Cal's roster is stocked with experience with five seniors, three juniors and two freshmen. While competition is fierce each week for spots on the travel squad, seniors Vikki Laing and Ria Quiazon are unquestionably the team's leaders. Laing, a 2002 first team All-Pac-10 pick, and Quiazon, a 2002 all-region honoree, posted the squad's top two fall stroke averages at 73.6 and 74.1, respectively. The duo combined for five Top 7 finishes, with Laing posting three of them.
Both have recently competed at international competitions - Laing on Great Britain and Ireland's Curtis Cup team and Quiazon for the Philippines at the Asian Games.
'Vikki and Ria are two outstanding leaders for different reasons,' said McDaniel. 'That gives us the whole package. Ria has great wedge play. She's a very organized and precise player. She uses smart strategy on the course. Vikki has incredible length and is one of the best athletes I've ever coached. From both of their games, you can draw a lot. They will in turn mentor our freshmen and make them part of a championship team right away.'
Huarte, a 2002 first team All-Pac-10 recipient, is arguably the Bears' most steady golfer. She tallied a 75.3 fall stroke average after setting the school season record of 74.5 last year and has posted 42 straight rounds under 80.
'Sarah brings consistency to the program,' said McDaniel. 'I expect to see a breakthrough from her within the next year. She's always around par, but we'll see her shoot under par more and more with her maturity.'
Dury, who is a member of New Zealand's national team, is in her second season at Cal. She posted a 75.3 stroke average in the fall and recorded Top 10 finishes at the Oregon State (T10th) and Kent Youel invitationals (T6th).
'Claire was a real shot in the arm for us last year,' said McDaniel of one of her three international players. 'She played well, filling in the gap when she needed to last spring. However, she has elevated her game to a new level this year, as one of the two players (Vikki Laing) to contribute to each of our three fall wins.'
Temple, a Berkeley product, has lowered her average by over two strokes since last season from 78.4 to 76.2.
'Anna is always right there,' said McDaniel. 'She's one of the hardest working collegiate players I know.'
Freshmen Mika Takayama and Sophia Sheridan have played like veterans since arriving on campus. Takayama is from nearby Alameda, while Sheridan comes to Cal from Guadalajara, Mexico. With a 74.6 average, Takayama was the third-best Cal golfer in the fall. She also had two Top 10 results to her credit and never finished lower than 21st. Sheridan, a member of the Mexican national team, averaged 75.4, grabbed fifth at the Hawaii tournament and never placed lower than 29th. Both were in lead groups entering the final round of a fall tournament.
'They are playing some great golf right now,' said McDaniel, 'especially being so new to collegiate golf. They have adapted wonderfully. They're both different personality-wise, but together form a terrific one-two punch. It's only a matter of time until they finish a tournament on top.'
For McDaniel, the runaway victory in Hawaii epitomizes her team's capabilities.
'There's a real businesslike mood on the team,' said McDaniel. 'It's an ideal atmosphere in which to coach. There's not a lot of emotional swings you get from less experienced teams. In Hawaii, the last round put an exclamation point on our season, maybe more so than Stanford. We went out and shot another low round and buried the field. That to me is what this team is all about. Cal women's golf is the real deal.'