Cal Men's Golf in Final Match Before Pac-10's

FINAL WARM-UP FOR PAC-10'S: This weekend, the California men's golf team will be playing its final match prior to the Pac-10 Championships, but it's hardly a 'warm-up.' This weekend's U.S. Intercollegiate features one of the more challenging fields of the year for the Golden Bears. Cal has finished in the top eight in all six of its spring events thus far - its best run of success in over 10 years. Freshman Stephen Hale continues to lead the team with a 72.2 stroke-average, while junior George Gandranata is just behind at 72.5.

THE EVENT: The U.S. Intercollegiate Championship will be played at the par-70, 6,835-yard Stanford Golf Course. Teams will open action at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and will play the second round immediately after the first. The event wraps up with the final 18 holes teeing off at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday. Live scoring will be available at www.GolfStat.com. It is a five-man format with the best four scores counting each round.

DEZ SAYS: Head coach Steve Desimone is excited about the opportunity to play in the highly competitive atmosphere of the U.S. Intercollegiate, 'It's a tremendous field, the best we've played in all year. Eight of the conference schools will be here and some other really good teams. Most importantly, I want us to be competitive. I think if the guys are ready to play, and I think we are, we have a chance at the top five, if not better. Stanford is the clear favorite, playing on its home course. When you look at the other schools, it will be a real challenge, but I think we're up to it. Each course is different, conditions are different. With this course, the rough is up and there'll be a lot of wind. I tend to think that works in our favor. We keep the ball in play most of the time, our short games are better than the fall and our putting is pretty good - we hope to make a few that we didn't make last week. We've had a history of playing well here; mainly because we had good experience at Stanford. But many of our current guys haven't played Stanford very much, so we'll see how it goes.'

BEAR LINE-UP: Cal's lineup (in order, with 2007-08 statistics) for the U.S. Intercollegiate is listed below.

Player Cl. 07-08 Rounds Strokes Avg. Low Top Finish
Evan Derian So. 22 1602 72.8 67 T6
Stephen Hale Fr. 29 2095 72.2 67 1
Eric Mina Fr. 26 1916 73.7 69 T17
Brandon Beck Sr. 18 1326 73.7 68 T6
George Gandranata Jr. 27 1958 72.5 66 T6

LINEUP LOOK: The Golden Bears continue to use their established five-man rotation, which has brought strong showings thus far in the spring. Sophomore Evan Derian, who stepped up with an excellent performance last week in Arizona will be in the No. 1 slot, while Cal's dynamic duo of freshmen, Stephen Hale and Eric Mina, play at two and three. Senior Brandon Beck will occupy the No. 4 slot, while junior George Gandranata looks to get back on track this weekend playing at No. 5. Gandranata played this course in the same 2006 tournament, tallying a pair of 74's in the rain-shortened event. Beck competed in the event in both 2004 and 2005, firing a top round of 71.

A LOOK AT THE FIELD: The U.S. Intercollegiate features a 17-team field, including five teams ranked in the top 35 in the nation - No. 3 UCLA, No. 5 USC, No. 11 Stanford, No. 20 ASU and No. 33 San Diego State, as well as UC Davis, UC Irvine, Minnesota, Nevada, Northern Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, San Jose State, TCU, Toledo and Washington.

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 - ASU THUNDERBIRD: Cal had its best round of the weekend on Sunday, closing the ASU Thunderbird Invitational with a flourish, climbing to ninth place after entering the day in a tie for 13th. Freshman Eric Mina was the key performer for the Golden Bears, firing a minus-two 70, the seventh-best round of the day. Sophomore Evan Derian was the top finisher for the Golden Bears, tying for 24th place with a 217 (+4). He had Cal's top round of the event with a second-round 68. Freshman Stephen Hale had a consistent effort, shooting 74-72-73 to finish at 219 (+6), tied for 31st place. Mina was the strong finisher on Sunday, helping himself climb 20 spots in the individual standings to finish at 46th with a 222 (+9). He had a team-best five birdies in the final round. Cal opened the tournament with a 295, then improved on Saturday to 293 before wrapping up Sunday with a 289 to finish at 877 (+25). Arizona State won the event with an 843 (-9).

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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