Thunderbird Invitational Friday and Saturday for Men's Golf
April 9, 2009
TEMPE, Ariz. - GOLDEN BEARS INTO STRETCH RUN: The first of California's two remaining competitions before the conference championships begins Friday as the Golden Bears arrive in Tempe, Ariz., for the Thunderbird Invitational.
THE EVENT: The 37th annual ASU Thunderbird Invitational at ASU's Karsten Golf Course (par-71, 7,057 yards) kicks off with 36 holes Friday and a final round on Saturday. Last year, California saved its best for the final round, climbing to 9th place after starting the final 18 holes in a tie for 13th. Then-freshman Eric Mina was the key performer for the Golden Bears, firing a minus-two 70, the seventh-best round of the day. ASU has won six of the past 10 (1999-2001, 2003-2004, 2008) Thunderbird Invitational Tournaments and has won the tournament 13 of the past 20 years. Last year, ASU won the tournament with a 9-under 843 while Espen Kofstad of Denver won medalist honors with a 3-under 210. Live scoring will be available at Golfstat.com.
DES SAYS: Head coach Steve Desimone says the Karsten Golf Course could be a welcome site for his team based on prior performance: 'Michael Jensen has always played it well. His length really is an asset there and there are a number of short irons in. George Gandranata has played it reasonably well. Eric Mina has played very well as of late. I am optimistic. I think the guys are really ready to play. We are certainly looking forward to it.'
BEAR LINEUP: Cal's lineup (in order, with 2008-09 statistics)
Player YR RDS STROKES AVG LOW TOP FINISHEric Mina So. 27 1978 73.2 67 T3Michael Jensen Sr. 24 1759 73.2 68 T1Stephen Hale So. 27 1993 73.8 68 T15John Murphy Jr. 24 1764 73.5 68 2George Gandranata Sr. 21 1559 74.2 69 T7
LINEUP LOOK: Eric Mina leads the Cal lineup after firing a career-best 67 (-3) to ends his Western Intercollegiate in tie for 6th. He is followed by co-captain Michael Jensen, Stephen Hale and John Murphy, with George Gandranata returning to the group after yielding to Kent Yamane last time out.
A LOOK AT THE FIELD: The 16-team field consists of host Arizona State followed by Arizona, Ball State, BYU, California, Colorado State, Cal State Northridge, Denver, Fresno State, UC Irvine, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, San Diego State, Texas Christian and UNLV.
LAST TIME OUT: Three Golden Bears ended their Western Intercollegiate tournaments in the top 20, led by Eric Mina's 67 (-3) on the final day to finish tied for 6th, as California climbed one spot into a 5th-place finish (+45) at Pasatiempo Golf Course in Santa Cruz, Calif. 'We were due to play better, we got some improved play and I was very pleased with some things,' said Head Coach Steve Desimone of the final round. 'Eric had a great tournament; Michael played well, he seems to be regaining the confidence he had earlier in the year; and Stephen Hale worked out some kinks in the last 24 hours. Overall we've had a really strong year with three events to go. I still see us situated very well for NCAA Regional competition.'
AVOIDING ROUGH IN BUSY TIMES: 'It may be the busiest stretch that we have ever had,' says Desimone of their recent back-to-back events and upcoming consecutive weekends of competition before the Pac-10 Championships. 'We have spent a lot of time practicing, especially working on some issues, spending a lot of time on the short game because we are going to be dealing with some very lengthy rough at Arizona State and Stanford. A lot of our success will depend on how we deal with the long rough around the greens.
'A' GAMES NOW OR NEVER: 'This is when the good teams start gearing it up to get ready for the regionals and for the NCAA championship,' says Desimone. 'This is the right time for us to play well and get some confidence and keep right on going for a while.'
HOPING FOR A GOOD PICK AMOMG SIX SITES FOR REGIONAL: 'The committee has stated their commitment to keep the teams geographically closest to their sites,' Desimone says. 'They are going to do everything they can to keep them there and still balance the overall field with competitive balance. That is not going to be an easy task. Obviously our hope is that we will stay in the neighborhood and play in Lake Merced. I think the chances of that are pretty good but it is certainly not a 100-percent guarantee.'
CAL-STANFORD ALUMNI EVENT MAY 4 AT CASTLEWOOD: A combined Cal-Stanford Alumni event will take place on May 4 at Castlewood Country Club, hosted by Cal alumnus Walt Edgerly. It includes a fundraising tournament with proceeds to be shared by both programs. Donating participants will play with Cal or Stanford team members and mingle with the coaching staffs, with net and gross winner prizes, food and hors d' oeuvres, and a silent auction. Contact the golf office at (510) 643-5914 for more information.