Men's Golf Set for Western Intercollegiate
March 27, 2009
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - CALIFORNIA AIMS TO KEEP ROLLING: Coming off their second consecutive short turnaround after finishing 5th at the National Invitational Tournament, the Golden Bears are back on a familiar course for the Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo Golf Course.
THE EVENT: Hosted by San Jose State, the 63rd annual Western Intercollegiate men's golf tournament, the longest-running intercollegiate golf event west of the Mississippi, takes place at Pasatiempo Golf Course, a par-70, 6511-yard layout in Santa Cruz, Calif. It is a three-day, 54-hole event featuring 18 teams, with one round played each day on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Shotgun starts will begin at 9 a.m. PT. Last year, Saint Mary's College took the team title while Michigan State's Jack Newman won the individual crown. The top-four scores among each team's five players count toward each day's team score. Live tournament scoring will also be available at Golfstat.com and Westernintercollegiate.net.
DES SAYS: 'Great players and great teams have been victorious there,' says Head Coach Steve Desimone of Pasatiempo.'We've been close many times over the last few years and have just come up a little short. Our goal is to push it over the top. We're playing well and have a lot of confidence, and I like our chances. It's a course that we have played very well in the past: runner-up twice in the last five years and fourth last year. Only John [Murphy] had not played it until Wednesday. Most of the guys have played it before and played it well. I wouldn't call it a home course for us, but we're familiar with it and had some success there.'
BIRDIES FOR THE TAKING? 'There are five or six holes that are very difficult and can be really challenging, but there are also a number of holes that can be attacked with good ball striking,' Coach Desimone says. 'The greens are fairly receptive. It will depend on how firm the course gets, but there could be a lot of birdies out there; we've just got to limit our mistakes.'
THE WEATHER FACTOR: The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s with a chance for some wind, but the breezes are unlikely to approach the 20-to-40-mph gusts players faced at the event last year.
BEAR LINEUP: Cal's lineup (in order, with 2008-09 statistics)
Player YR RDS STROKES AVG LOW TOP FINISHEric Mina So. 24 1763 73.4 68 T3John Murphy Jr. 21 1537 73.1 68 2Stephen Hale So. 24 1770 73.7 68 T15Michael Jensen Sr. 21 1538 73.2 68 T1Kent Yamane Sr. 9 656 72.8 70 T8
LINEUP LOOK: With the exception of senior co-captain and San Jose native Kent Yamane joining the lineup in place of George Gandranata, Cal goes with the same lineup in its order of finish at last week's National Invitational. 'Eric Mina really got back on track last weekend,' Desimone says of the Bears' top-slotted golfer for this event following his tie for 5th at the NIT. 'He's hit the ball pretty well all spring though his iron play has been somewhat erratic. But I really expect him to settle in and have a lot of success over the next few days.' Junior transfer John Murphy is No. 2 for Cal following his even-par performance in Tucson. 'John's had some swing issues most of the spring but we seemed to get those resolved last week in Tucson,' says Desimone. 'He gained confidence as we went through the tournament and now really looks like the John Murphy we saw back in the fall.' The lineup is rounded out by sophomore Stephen Hale in the 3-spot, followed by the senior co-captains, Jensen, who fired a career-best 68 in the first round of the NIT; and Yamane, who last competed at the USC Invitational, finishing 8th.
A LOOK AT THE FIELD: The 18-team field consists of Brown, California, UC Santa Barbara, Colorado, Denver, Fresno State, Kansas, Long Beach State, Mercer, Michigan State, Nevada, Oregon, Oregon State, Pacific, Saint Mary's, San Jose State, Santa Clara and Wyoming. Cal could be considered one of the 'top three or four teams' at the event, according to Desimone, in the mix with Michigan State, Colorado, Kansas and Fresno State. 'I like our chances. If we play well, I think we'll be right there coming down the stretch Tuesday afternoon.'
LAST TIME OUT: California fought its way up to a fifth-place finish at the Omni Tucson National Golf Club as Eric Mina ended as the Bears' golfer in a tie for 5th overall (-3), sinking three birdies in a 1-under final round. John Murphy put down four birdies that were offset by two bogies and a double bogey on the fifth hole, finishing even on the final day and in the tournament (T11). Stephen Hale fired an even-par 72 final round to end in a tie for 25th (+3). Michael Jensen shot a plus-5 final round to end in 43rd (+7) and George Gandranata finished Monday at plus-6 in a tie for 68th (+13). 'The guys did a very good job.. We went in and just played some solid golf all the way through. Anybody that shot par or better really had it going,' said Desimone. 'Overall we got the chance to get back after it and we played a strong final round. It's good to be back on track. But we're glad to give up Bermuda greens and get out of the desert.'
GREAT TO PLAY A GREAT COURSE: With Golfweek Magazine's Top 100 Rankings out last week, Pasatiempo is ranked No. 29 in the classic golf course category. 'It deserves that ranking,' Desimone says. 'It is a stern test. It may be shorter than what we normally see, but it has tremendously difficult greens - very large, very undulating, very well bunkered. If you hit it straight, you've got a chance to score, but if you're slightly offline and you miss targets, Pasatiempo can still bite you, no doubt about it.'