Cal Men's Golf Hosts Pac-10 Championship

April 21, 2008

PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIP: California will host the 49th annual Pac-10 Men's Golf Championship from Apr. 27-30 at the Meadow Club (par-71, 6,686 yards) 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.

LOOKING AT THE BEARS: Cal has top-eight finishes in each of its seven spring tournaments this year - its best stretch of sustained success since 1993. The Bears have used five golfers primarily throughout the season with junior George Gandranta and freshman Stephen Hale pacing the squad. Hale has a team-best 72.1 stroke-average and has been Cal's top finisher in three tournamnets this year, including an individual title at the John Burns Intercollegiate. Gandranata, with a stroke-average of 72.4, has been Cal's top finisher in six events - he and Hale tied for 13th place at last weekend's U.S. Intercollegiate Championship.

THE EVENT: The Pac-10 Men's Golf Championship is a three-day, 72-hole tournament with the unique format of six golfers playing for each school with the top five scores counting in each round. After a Sunday practice round and banquet, the first round begins at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, with the second round immediately following. Tuesday's third round tees of at 8 a.m. and the final round also tees off at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. Live scoring will be available at www.GolfStat.com.

BEAR LINE-UP: Cal's lineup (in order, with 2007-08 statistics) for the Pac-10 Men's Golf Championship will be determined through practice rounds and posted by Saturday. Cal's lineup from last weekend's U.S. Intercollegiate is listed below:

Player Cl. 07-08 Rounds Strokes Avg. Low Top Finish
Evan Derian So. 25 1817 72.7 67 T6
Stephen Hale Fr. 32 2308 72.1 67 1
Eric Mina Fr. 29 2141 73.8 69 T17
Brandon Beck Sr. 21 1542 73.4 68 T6
George Gandranata Jr. 30 2171 72.4 66 T6

LINEUP LOOK: Cal has used the same five players for its lineup for much of the spring, however, the Pac-10 Championship is a six-count-five format meaning another player will be in the mix in Fairfax. Freshman Stephen Hale leads the team in stroke-average while junior George Gandranata has been the team leader in six events this year and tied for 17th place in the 2006 Pac-10 Championship. Senior Brandon Beck brings veteran leadership, having played in three Pac-10 Championships in his career. As a sophomore in 2005, Beck fired a blistering 282 (70.5 average) to finish tied for fifth at the Pac-10's. Sophomore Evan Derian had a solid round of 69 at last year's Pac-10's while freshman Eric Mina will join Hale as a rookie debuting on the conference's big stage.

A LOOK AT THE FIELD: The Pac-10 is arguably the top conference in the nation in the sport of men's golf. UCLA (#3), USC (#5) and Stanford (#11) are all ranked in the top 11 nationally (according to Golfweek/Sagarin index) while Arizona State (#20), Oregon State (#45) and Oregon (#50) are all rated in the top-50. Cal's ranking (#57) may not be as high, but taking into account its play in the spring shows the potency of the Golden Bear lineup (rankings factor in the full year of scores). Arizona, Washington and Washington State round out the competitive 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 - U.S. INTERCOLLEGIATE: Cal had another outstanding performance on Sunday, finishing the U.S. Intercollegiate Championship in third place at the Stanford Golf Course. Junior George Gandranata and freshman Stephen Hale led the Golden Bears, both finishing the event at 213 (+3) to tie for 13th place overall. While Gandranata and Hale were the Bears top finishers, on Sunday it was senior Brandon Beck pacing the squad as he shot a one-under 69 with five birdies to climb to 20th overall in the field. Sophomore Evan Derian matched Gandranata by shooting a 70 on Sunday to climb to 16th place. Derian had three birdies and three bogeys in the final round while Gandranata had just one bogey which he offset with a birdies on the ninth hole. Hale wrapped up a very solid tournament with a 71 in Sunday's action. The freshman had shot a 72 and a 70 in Saturday action. Freshman Eric Mina also had a solid final round, tallying a 71 to climb to 49th place overall with a 225 (+15). USC, ranked No. 2 in the nation, won the event, firing a 275 on Sunday to wrap up at 828 (+12). Host and 11th-ranked Stanford was 11-under on Sunday at 269 to finish second at 841 (+1). Cal and UCLA were tied for third at 857 (+17). Five ranked teams finished below the Golden Bears.

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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