Golden Bears Travel South For USC Collegiate Invitational

Feb. 29, 2008

USC COLLEGIATE: The Golden Bears return to action on Monday at the USC Collegiate Invitational at North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village, Calif. Cal is coming off one of its more impressive performances of the year after finishing in sixth place at the John Burns Intercollegiate last week. The key performer was freshman Stephen Hale, who was the individual champion after winning the event with a 201.

RECORD-SETTER: Stephen Hale's performance in Hawaii last week was one of the most imprssive tourneys in Cal men's golf history. Playing in just his sixth career tournament, the freshman fired three straight 67's to finish at 201, believed by head coach Steve Desimone to be the top score in the history of the Cal program. The victory was Cal's first individual title since Michael Wilson won the 2006 Alister MacKenzie Invitational; and Cal's first title away from one of its home courses since Wilson won the 2005 CordeValle Classic. In the last five years, Cal has had two performances that nearly matched Hale's score - in the fall of 2003, Jeff Hood fired a 202 (64-67-71) to win the Mid-Pines Intercollegiate while in the spring of 2004, Peter Tomasulo shot a 202 (65-68-69) at the PING-Arizona Intercollegiate. Tomasulo's 202 was part of a stretch of nine straight rounds below 70.

THE EVENT: The USC Collegiate Invitational will be played at North Ranch Country Club in Westlake Village, Calif. Teams will play 36 holes on Monday beginning at 7:30 a.m. with a shotgun start. The final 18 holes begin Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. Live scoring will be available at www.GolfStat.com. This is the 30th anniversary of the event which was originally known as the Southwestern Collegiate. It recent years, it was also known as the Ashworth Invitational.

DEZ SAYS: Cal head coach Steve Desimone has been pleased by his team's performance thus far in the spring and is hoping to keep up the solid level of play on Monday in Southern California. 'I want to keep some positive momnetum going here. The kids are playing pretty well. This golf course fits the strengths of our game nicely - ball striking and course management. We've played this course well in the past so I'm very much looking foward to a great field and a great challenge. [As far as added pressure on Stephen Hale], I do believe that any time you win a tournament, your status is elevated, and everybody expects you to play, maybe not to that exact level, but to play really well. Especially for a freshman, you're putting more pressure on yourself. I don't think there's any question, the first few swings on Monday will have some extra anxiety for Stephen. A positive benefit of last week is that the other guys know Stephen is a heck of a player, but they can play with him; they get confidence knowing they can do that too. That is part of that positive momentum. Hopefully everybody contributes to what has been a pretty good spring so far. That's when you elevate yourself from good to great is when all five contribute for all three rounds.'

BEAR LINE-UP: Cal's lineup (in order, with 2007-08 statistics) for the USC Collegiate Invitational is listed below.Player YR RDS STROKES AVG LOW TOP FINISHStephen Hale Fr. 17 1215 71.5 67 1George Gandranata Jr. 15 1069 71.3 66 T8Eric Mina Fr. 14 1025 73.2 69 T24Brandon Beck Sr. 6 443 73.8 71 T60Evan Derian So. 11 796 72.4 67 T8

LINEUP LOOK: After last week's successful tournament in Hawaii, the Golden Bears will use the same lineup this week at the USC Collegiate Invitational. Freshman Stephen Hale moves up to the No. 1 slot after his impressive streak of 67's in Hawaii. The ever-steady George Gandranata is at No. 2 after another sub-par (a positive term in the golf world!) performance. Another freshman, Eric Mina will play at No. 3 while senior Brandon Beck and sophomore Evan Derian round out the Cal Five. Beck posted his best round of the year in the final round in Hawaii and appears to be getting back to top form for the Bears. Derian slipped a little in the final round in Hawaii after playing very aggressive golf in an effort to catch up to his counterparts, making his final round 76 a bit deceiving.

A LOOK AT THE FIELD: The USC Collegiate Invitational features another challenging field for the Golden Bears. Scheduled to compete with Cal are: BYU, Fresno State, Loyola Marymount, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, pepperdine, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, USC and Washington.

LAST YEAR AT USC: Freshman Andrey Mindirgasov shot an even-par final round to lead Cal to a seventh-place finish at the 2007 USC Collegiate Invitational. Mindirgasov tied for 15th in the event with a plus-three 216 overall. Stanford captured the team title by firing a 248 (-4) over the 72 holes. Mindirgasov was plus-two after the front nine on Tuesday, but then connected on three birdies with just one bogey on the back nine to come in at even par. In the opening round, the freshman had fired a two-under 69. Sophomore George Gandranata was the next top finisher for the Bears, tallying an eight-over 221 in the three rounds. Junior Kent Yamane had opened the event with a first-round 70, but slipped to a nine-over 222 to finish tied for 39th place. Junior Michael Jensen finished with back-to-back 74's to close at 225 (+12) while freshman Evan Derian notched a 230 (+17).

LAST TIME OUT - JOHN BURNS: Two very impressive scores of 67 in a row were not enough for California's Stephen Hale as the freshman fired a third five-under round to win the individual championship at the 2008 John Burns Intercollegiate. Hale's performance helped the Golden Bears earn a sixth-place finish in the competitive 21-team field. Hale tore through the par-72, 6,916-yard course on all three days, connecting on seven birdies in each of his three rounds. After entering Friday's final round tied for the lead, he opened action with a birdie and relentlessly pulled away from the field to win by two strokes. Hale was not the only strong performer for the Golden Bears. Junior George Gandranata tallied a second-straight 70 to finish at 212 (-4), tied for 34th place. Senior Brandon Beck had his best round since returning from mono by shooting a 71, finishing at 218 (+2), tied for 65th place. Freshman Eric Mina matched Beck with a 218 as well. All three of Cal's rounds (284-278-281) were better than any other rounds this year away from home - the Bears tallied a 274 and a 277 in the first two rounds of its own MacKenzie Invitational at the par-71 Meadow Club. Auburn won the team title at the event, firing a blistering 820 (44 below par) over the three rounds.

ARIZONA-PING: With four golfers finishing in the top 35, the California men's golf team earned a solid seventh-place finish at its season-opening tournament, the Arizona-PING Intercollegiate. George Gandranata, who was red-hot, playing minus-seven golf through the first two rounds, cooled off for the final round to finish at a minus-one 212 to tie for 16th in the event, pacing the Golden Bears. Cal shot a 286 (+2) for the final round, its top round of the tournament. It is just the second time in their last 12 events that the Bears closed with their best round of the tournament. Sophomore Andrey Mindirgasov and freshman Stephen Hale both had minus-one rounds of 70 in the final round to pace the Golden Bears. The pair finished tied for 35th overall at 220 (+7). Freshman Eric Mina was the most consistent Bear in the event, firing three straight 73's to finish at 219 (+6), tied for 31st place. Senior Brandon Beck closed the tourney with his best round, a sold plus-two 73, tallying 15 pars in the round. Tennessee captured the tournament championship with an 832 (-20). Cal tallied an 864 (+12).

FALL RECAP: Cal played in four fall events with fifth-place finishes in both the Falcon Invitational (Air Force) and the Husky Invitational (Washington). George Gandaranata was the top fall golfer for the Golden Bears with a 71.7 over nine rounds. Sophomore Evan Derian tallied an even 72.0 in the fall, including a pair of 67's at Cal's own MacKenzie Invitational. Freshman Stephen Hale had an excellent debut, shooting 72.2 over 11 rounds. Sophomore Andrey Mindirgasov (74.1) and freshman Eric Mina (73.5) were the other top contributors during the fall. The Bears' played without Brandon Beck, who missed the four events due to a bout with mononucleosis.

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