Men's Golf Competes at Western Intercollegiate

March 25, 2008

KEEP UP THE PACE: The Cal men's golf team has a tough challenge ahead if it plans on keeping up its recent pace of improving its finish in every tournament it plays. The Golden Bears have improved their finish over the previous tournament in each of the last five events - climbing to a season-best second-place finish at the Fresno Lexus Classic on March 11. The Bears would need to capture the overall title this week at the Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz to continue their impressive pace.

THE EVENT: The 62nd annual Western Intercollegiate will be played at the par-70, Alister MacKenzie-designed Fort Pasatiemo Golf Course in Santa Cruz, Calif. It is the oldest continuous men's college golf tournament west of the Mississippi River. Teams will play 36 holes on Monday with a shotgun start at 8 a.m. The final 18 holes begin Tuesday at 8 a.m. Live scoring will be available at www.GolfStat.com. It is a five-man format with the best four scores counting each round.

BEAR LINE-UP: Cal's lineup (in order, with 2007-08 statistics) for the Western Intercollegiate is listed below.
Player YR RDS STROKES AVG LOW TOP FINISHBrandon Beck Sr. 9 667 74.1 71 T14Stephen Hale Fr. 20 1440 72.0 67 1Evan Derian So. 14 1022 73.0 67 T8Eric Mina Fr. 17 1252 73.6 69 T24George Gandranata Jr. 18 1301 72.3 66 T8

LINEUP LOOK: The Golden Bears will compete in the Western Intercollegiate with the same five competitors as the last three tournaments - a strong combination which has produced three top-six finishes. Senior Brandon Beck, junior George Gandranata and sophomore Evan Derian all fired 214's in the Bears' last tournament, tying for sixth place at the Fresno Lexus Classic. Beck posted his best round (68) and tournament of the year - he has improved in each tourney this spring. The sixth-place finishes were also season-bests for Gandranata and Derian. Freshman Stephen Hale is tied with Gandranata for the top stroke-average on the team at 72.0, while another freshman, Eric Mina, had a career-best 20th-place effort at Fresno.

INDIVIDUALS ALSO: In addition to Cal's five-man squad competing for the team title this week, sophomore Andrey Mindirgasov and freshman Feldman Tan will compete in the Western Intercollegiate as individuals. Mindirgasov has a 73.9 average in five tournaments this year whileTan will be playing in his second career event.

The Western Intercollegiate features a 15-team field. Texas Tech (No. 23) and Michigan State (No. 25) are the top-ranked teams according to Golfstat. Besides Cal, local teams participating are host San Jose State, St. Mary's and Santa Clara. Columbia, Colorado, Hawaii, Missouri and Nevada give the event its national flair. Fresno State, Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara round out the field.

RECORD-SETTER: Stephen Hale's performance in Hawaii in late February was one of the most impressive 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, the top score in the history of the Cal program. His 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.

LAST TIME OUT - FRESNO LEXUS RECAP: Cal used a total team effort to post its top finish of the year, tying for second place at the Fresno Lexus Classic. The Golden Bears fired a final-round 279, the top round of the day, led by senior Brandon Beck, who closed the event with a 68. Beck's 68, a season-best round for the veteran, gave him an overall 211 (-5), matching the three-round totals of teammates George Gandranata and Evan Derian, as all three were tied for sixth place in the tournament. Beck's four under-par final round, included four birdies and no bogeys. For the full tournament, he had 11 birdies and just five bogeys. Derian also had 11 birdies and added an eagle on the par-five 531-yard 12th hole on Tuesday. The steady Gandranata had just four bogeys in the event, including one bogey and one birdie on Tuesday, following a stellar second round of 66. Cal opened the event with a 287, followed with a 278, then closed with the 279, climbing in the standings each round. In fact, it was the fourth straight tournament that Cal climbed in the standings with each round. In addition to the three players finishing in the top six, freshmen Eric Mina and Stephen Hale were also very strong. Mina tallied a three-round 214 (-2) with 12 birdies to finish in 20th place, while Hale had a 215 (-1) to finish in 27th place (of 104 golfers). San Diego State, which had opened the tournament red-hot, held off the Golden Bears in the final round to win with an 841 (-23).

USC COLLEGIATE RECAP: Senior Brandon Beck tallied a 14th place finish to pace four Cal men's golfers in the top-25 as the Golden Bears earned fifth place in the USC Collegiate Invitational. The Bears shot a final round 292, the third-best round of the day, to climb three spots for their third top-five effort of the year. Beck improved in each round of the tournament for the third straight time this year, shooting an opening round 77 in extremely windy conditions, followed by a 74 and then a 73, to tie for 14th overall at 224 (+11). Freshman Stephen Hale was just behind Beck, closing the event with a pair of 72's to finish at 225 (+12), tied for 18th place. Sophomore Evan Derian tied for 20th place overall at 226 (+13), while freshman Eric Mina had another solid performance, shooting a three-round 227 (+14) to tie for 25th place. Host USC won the event with a three-round total of 885 (+33), followed closely by Tennessee (889, +37). Cal finished ahead of Pac-10 rivals Washington, Oregon State and Oregon. The Bears' score over the final two-round score of 589 was tied with Pepperdine for the third-best in the tournament.

JOHN BURNS RECAP: 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 RECAP: 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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