2005 Cal Men's Golf Outlook
March 8, 2005
BERKELEY, CA - In a lot of ways, the 2005 California men's golf team has the toughest challenge of any Division I golf program in the nation this season - defending its 2004 NCAA title. Adding to the Golden Bears' difficult quest in 2005 is the fact they only return one player, senior All-American Jeff Hood, from last year's NCAA championship squad. Despite a line-up that includes only one upperclassman, Cal is far from conceding the 2005 season. Even though this adversity might make the year tough on Cal, head coach Steve Desimone and his young Bears are ready to take on all challenges to put themselves in position for a NCAA Regional berth.
'Our No. 1 goal is to make the NCAA Regional,' said Desimone. 'We would love to defend our national title, and with such a young team we're hoping for a fast learning curve. And, just like we learned last year, if you are able to get out of the regional, then anything is possible.'
Hood, an All-American and All-Pac-10 pick last year, is Cal's team captain, No. 1 player and will be assuming a huge leadership role as the only returnee from the Bears' NCAA champion squad. He tied teammate Peter Tomasulo for 10th place at the NCAAs, including shooting a 65 in the first round and a 69 the final day in one of the greatest rounds in Cal Golf history. Hood is considered one of the top players in the country as he is an excellent ball striker with a solid short game and is an outstanding putter.
'We are building this team around Jeff Hood,' said Desimone. 'Following Jeff, it is critical we identify and develop our next generation of players and have them ready to be competitive against the top competition. We have a tremendous group of young players. We have five freshmen all capable of seeing substantial playing time this year. We have some the best young players in the West.'
One of the best players in the West the Bears will not be utilizing this season is junior Michael Wilson, who will be redshirting this year. Wilson, who was Pac-10 Co-Freshman of the Year in 2003, has opted to sit out this season after a fine sophomore campaign. A player with an outstanding short game and one of the best putters in Cal history, his 71 on the final round of the 2004 NCAA championship was another key component in the Bears' national title run.
With Wilson redshirting in 2005, true freshman Michael Jensen has been thrust to the forefront and seems to be comfortable with that position. Developing into one of the best freshmen in the country and a candidate for Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors, Jensen established himself as a major player for Cal in the fall, competing in all five tournaments. He had the Bears' top finish (28th) at the Big Ten/Pac-10 Challenge in October, and this past summer finished third at the U.S. Amateur qualifying, advancing to the U.S. Amateur at Winged Foot.
Sophomore Brandon Beck should be a mainstay among the Bears' top five this season. A solid ball striker, Beck is improving his short game and putting and is ready to be one of Cal's major contributors. As a freshman he shot 74.7 over 22 rounds and his 69 in the final round of the 2003 Alister MacKenzie Invitational was instrumental in Cal's come-from-behind victory.
Kyle Dowden is another talented young Bear with unlimited potential. The redshirt freshman finished tied for fifth at this past fall's Alister MacKenzie Invitational with a team-best 211 (-2) and during the summer shot a 66 at the Long Beach Open qualifying. Dowden went on to finish tied for 10th at the Long Beach Open with a score of 277, the low amateur score by nine strokes. At Camarillo High School, he was the Los Angeles Daily News Player of the Year in 2002.
The Cal coaching staff is also excited about the prospects of redshirt freshman Jeff Vetterick and junior Fredrik Svanberg. Vetterick is one of the best ball strikers on the team. With improved putting and short game, he should be able find a spot in the Bears' top five. Svanberg, from Davos, Switzerland, is a member of the Swiss National Team and this past summer won the amateur category of the Olivier Barras Memorial for the third year in a row with a score of 221.
Two more players who will be battling for spots in Cal's top five will be graduating seniors Chris Ancheta and Lance Torrey. Ancheta played in the Pac-10 Championship for the Bears last season, while Torrey competed at this fall's Alister MacKenzie Invitational and shot a 217 (+4).
Rounding out the Bears' squad are true freshmen Daniel Kim and David Lieberman, both slated to redshirt this season after solid high school careers at Cerritos High School and Palm Springs High School, respectively.
'With such a young team my responsibility is to be patient, with a little salt, and give the kids the best opportunity to build towards another National Championship,' said Desimone. 'We are looking to give each player the best chance to succeed, but then it is up to them. Last year we had experienced players and leadership, which are keys to having a successful team. If we do what we need to do this season, the opportunity will again present itself. There is a building process and evolution. What is exciting is that we feel we are on the right track, but there are no shortcuts. It is going to take a lot of hard work.'
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