2003 Men's Golf Outlook
California men's golf has established itself as one of the nation's elite programs over the past two decades. In 2002, the Golden Bears fell one shot shy of advancing to the NCAA Championships. The Bears of 2003 have the talent and depth to reach the championships and make their seventh consecutive NCAA Western Regional appearance.
Returning two juniors and three sophomores and adding six newcomers, Cal will rely on a young squad to make some noise.
'We are very young, but this team is good,' said Steve Desimone, entering his 24th season as Cal's head coach. 'The problems we had a year ago in the four, five, six and seven spots just don't exist this season. This year, we go eight deep.'
Cal's only senior, Scott Carlyle, the No. 2 player a year ago, will redshirt the season to focus on academics (Civil Engineering major) and continue to be the No. 1 student-athlete on campus. Even without Carlyle, Cal's top four players this season are solid and ready for an excellent spring. Leading the way are juniors Peter Tomasulo and Jesse Ruda, sophomore Jeff Hood and freshman standout Michael Wilson.
In addition to capturing the Mid Pines Intercollegiate title, the Bears made history this past fall. Cal hosted its first 54 hole, major intercollegiate invitational ever, inviting 17-teams to the two-day competition. The Alister MacKenzie Invitational was played at the Meadow Club in Fairfax, CA with Fresno State emerging as the inaugural champions.
As for the line-up, the Bears will provide a very competitive Top 5.
Filling the No. 1 spot, Tomasulo currently posts the ninth-lowest stroke average in the nation (70.05 ). The first team All-Pac-10 member and the All-Pacific Region honoree placed in the Top 12 or better in each of the fall tournaments, shooting only three of 15 rounds above par. Tomasulo won his first collegiate tournament as co-medalist at the Barona Collegiate Classic hosted by San Diego State. He smoked the course with rounds of 66-69-71 for a 10-under par 206. Last spring he finished the season with a 71.5 stroke average, and for the year he led the team in eight of 13 tournaments. The Academic All-American candidate (Legal Studies) tied for second at the Husky Invitational (73-72-69) and tied for 14th at the 2002 Pac-10 Championships (70-74-72-75) and NCAA West Regionals (75-69-73).
'Peter has been our No. 1 player for the past two years,' said Desimone. 'The only thing he hadn't done was to win a tournament, which he finally accomplished. He's one of the top players in the country and on an All-American pace. He has length and touch and when you put these components together, you have one of the best players in the country.'
Securing Cal's No. 2 spot early in the spring is freshman Michael Wilson, who averaged 71.1 during the fall season. Hailing from Pacific Grove, CA, Wilson was the first Cal men's golfer to win his first-ever collegiate tournament appearance. He received medalist honors at the fall's Mid Pines Intercollegiate, hosted by UNC Greensboro, firing rounds of 69-69-70. Michael also placed seventh at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational (70-68-70) and is a setting high standards as a freshman.
'Michael has been a strong player in Northern California junior golf for years,' said Desimone. 'He has played great golf in strong fields and on hard courses. It's not often you tee it up in your first collegiate tournament and emerge with a victory.'
Ruda enters the spring in the No. 3 spot, returning after a medical redshirt 2001-02 season. Ruda averaged 73.5 in the five fall tournaments, collecting a 14th place finish at the Mid Pines Intercollegiate (72-75-71) and a 19th place showing at the Pacific Invitational (73-72-68). 'Jesse is finally healthy and has picked up where he left off,' said Desimone. ' We certainly missed him last year and it's great to see him come back and play at the level that we were hoping to see a year ago. He has a solid attitude and will challenge for our top two spots. With any kind of solid play, he could help propel us into the Top 25, if not higher.'
Sophomore Jeff Hood will begin the spring in the No. 4 spot after an impressive freshman campaign where he led the team in driving accuracy (79 percent). A 10th place finish at the Mid Pines Intercollegiate highlighted his fall campaign where he shot rounds of 70-73-74. His 73.5 fall stroke average is a two shot improvement from his 2001 fall average. Hood's strong play at the end of last season in the NCAA West Regional (finishing 16th) leads to real optimism about his contributions.'Jeff is playing more like a veteran even though he's been in our lineup for just a year and a half,' noted Desimone. 'At this stage he's ready to jump to the next level with a breakthrough spring performance.'
The fifth slot is where the competition lies. Sophomores Chris Ancheta and Lance Torrey along with freshman Eric West (Pembroke, Bermuda) will look to round out the starting line-up. Ancheta has been working on his golf swing and enters this year after breaking into the lineup last spring, gaining experience and confidence. Ancheta suffered through some illness and injury during the latter part of the spring but now looks ready to go. 'Chris has played good golf for us,' said Desimone. 'If we keep him healthy he should be ready for an excellent year.'
Torrey returns after redshirting the 2001-02 season. He placed 31st at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational (72-72-74) for a 72.7 stroke average. 'With a player like Lance, you never know when he'll jump into the Top 5,' said Desimone. 'He's a good, solid, smart player and no one out works him.'
West enters the spring holding down the No. 5 spot. He is a three-year student of the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Florida and has already made an impact as a Golden Bear. West averaged 73.8 in the fall playing in three events with a 19th place finish at the Alister MacKenzie Invitational (72-70-73) his best effort. 'No one wants it more than Eric,' Desimone said. 'He's a excellent ball striker, hard worker, loves to compete and is doing more than we could have asked or expected.'
In addition to Carlyle, Cal will redshirt three freshmen and one transfer. Freshmen Jeff Curtis (Lafayette, CA), Tim Kellund (Pleasant Hill, CA) and Dan Kreindler (Danville, CA) along with sophomore transfer Fredrik Svanberg (Davos, Switzerland/Orange Coast Community College) will take the year to adjust to the demanding life of a student-athlete at Cal.