Cal Men's Golf Heads to Arizona For Thunderbird

April 9, 2008

DOWN THE HOME STRETCH: The Cal men's golf team, which has posted five straight top-seven finishes, hs two tournaments remaining prior to hosting the 2008 Pac-10 Championships at the Meadow Club in Fairfax. This weekend's event is the ASU Thunderbird Invitational in Tempe, Ariz. Junior George Gandranata, who has tied for sixth place in each of his last two events, and freshman Stephen Hale are even for the team lead in stroke average at 72.2.

THE EVENT: The ASU Thunderbird Invitational will be played at the par-71 ASu Karsten Golf Course in Tempe, Ariz. Teams will play 18 holes on Friday (7:30 a.m.), Saturday (7:30 a.m.) and Sunday (7 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. Oregon was the 2007 Champion, firing an 844 (-20), while New Mexico's Charlie Beljan (since graduated) was the 2007 individual champion.

DEZ SAYS: Cal continues to have a very consistent spring and is hoping to continue its strong play in its final two regular-season outings. Head coach Steve Desimone is looking for another strong finish this weekend, 'What I'd love to see is a continuation of what we've done all spring - play good solid golf, make good decisions on the golf course and stay very competitive. We seem to have played better in each event this spring and we've had three straight top fives. With three tournaments to go before NCAAs, this is the time that we want to be peaking. We left a little bit out there last week with Evan not being healthy, but we're all healthy here. It's a golf course that only two of the guys have played, but it sets up well for us, the rough is up, the greens will be firm, and you have to hit it straight and that is clearly one of our strengths, so we'll see how we do.'

Player Cl. 07-08 Rounds Strokes Avg. Low Top Finish
George Gandranata Jr. 24 1732 72.2 66 T6
Stephen Hale Fr. 26 1876 72.2 67 1
Eric Mina Fr. 23 1694 73.7 69 T17
Brandon Beck Sr. 15 1102 73.5 68 T6
Evan Derian So. 19 1385 72.9 67 T6

LINEUP LOOK: The Golden Bears will compete in the ASU Thunderbird with the same five competitors as the last four tournaments - a strong combination which has produced four top-six finishes. Junior George Gandranata and freshman Stephen Hale both had top-10 finishes last time out at the Western Intercollegiate, while freshman Eric Mina had a career-best finish of 17. Senior Brandon Beck and sophomore Evan Derian round out the rotation - Derian battled illness at the Western and is back to full strength and looking to get back on track with a big weekend. Gandranata is making his fourth appearance at Karsten - he has averaged a 73.1 on the course, while Beck tallied a very impressive 208 (69.3 average) in last year's NCAA West Regionals at Karsten.

A LOOK AT THE FIELD: The ASU Thunderbird Invitational features a 15-team field. In addition to Cal and host Arizona State, the event will include Arizona, Baylor, Colorado State, Connecticut, CSU Northridge, Denver, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pacific, San Diego State, Texas A&M and UC Irvine.

PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIP: California will host the 2008 Pac-10 Men's Golf Championship from Apr. 27-30 at the Meadow Club in Fairfax, Calif. A Dr. Alister MacKenzie design established in 1927, the Meadow Club is located in the North Bay's Marin County. The course sits high above the town of Fairfax, near the Pacific Ocean. The Meadow Club has hosted the Alister MacKenzie Collegiate Men's Golf Invitational for the past six years as well as 17 satellite fundraising events for Cal Men's Golf beginning in 1989. The Meadow Club also hosted the 2001 US Open qualifying, the 1997 NorCal PGA Section Championship and the 1990 NCGA Junior Championship.

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 - WESTERN INTERCOLLEGIATE: California registered its third-straight top-five finish by posting a fourth-place effort at the 62nd annual Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo Golf Course. George Gandranata paced the Golden Bears on Thursday and overall, finishing at a plus-10 220 - the fifth time this year the junior has led the team. His final round 74 was one of the top rounds of the day on Thursday and helped him finish in sixth place overall at 220. Freshman Stephen Hale finished at 221 (+11) overall, tied for 10th place - the third top-10 finish of his young career. Freshman Eric Mina recorded the top finish of his career, tying for 17th place with a 223 (+13). Senior Brandon Beck had a 224 (+14) for the Bears. Sophomore Evan Derian, who was forced to withdraw from the first round due to illness, tallied a pair of 76's to close out the event. Playing as individuals, freshman Feldman Tan and sophomore Andrey Mindirgasov tallied totals of 231 (+21) and 234 (+24), respectively. St. Mary's had an impressive finish on Thursday to wrap up the team title at 880 (+40), edging Michigan State and UC Irvine, both of whom tallied 881's (+41). Cal earned fourth place with its final score of 886 (+46).

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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