Cal Aims to Stabilize Play at USC Collegiate Invitational
Feb. 20, 2009
BERKELEY - BEARS SEEK TO PLAY TO STRENGTHS AT NORTH RANCH: The Golden Bears make the turn toward March with their trip to Southern California for the USC Collegiate Invitational, their second competition of the spring, Monday and Tuesday in the 14-team field at North Ranch Country Club.
THE EVENT: The 2009 USC Collegiate Invitational at North Ranch Country Club is a 54-hole event with a 14-team field over two days. It is a par 71, 6,869-yard course, with 36 holes on Monday beginning at 7:30 a.m. with a shotgun start for both rounds, followed by another 7:30 a.m. opening Tuesday with a traditional start off tees 1 and 10. Although the event the event has been plagued with rain in its history, the weather forecast is favorable for good conditions this year. It's a very difficult golf course but one the Bears have played very well in the past, winning the event in 1990 with Ben Furth as individual champion. In the Bears' national championship season of 2004, Peter Tomasulo delivered eagles on the 12th and 15th holes. Last year, Cal battled to a fifth-place finish, with senior Brandon Beck placing 14th, with then-freshman Stephen Hale one stroke behind and Evan Derian and Eric Mina also in the top 25. Host USC won the 2008 team crown. Live stats will be available at GolfStat.com.
DES SAYS: After a great start in the fall, the team's seventh-place finish at spring's first event at the Arizona Intercollegiate has not flustered the squad as they see the big picture of the season as a marathon rather than a sprint. Their good track record at Borth Ranch has the Bears optimistic. 'Ball striking has been a strength for us,' says Head Coach Steve Desimone. He calls North Ranch 'not as punitive off the tee - a lot of target golf - but assuming we play to our strengths, it should set up well for us. Golf comes and goes. It's very difficult to be consistently good all the time. This is the halfway mark of our year. What's key for us is that we think the right things and we do the right things. This is a slow and steady build for Pac-10 and regional NCC competiton. To peak the right time is really the challenge. We've been competitive there in the past and I'd expect to be just as competitive over the next few days. Every one of our guys have played this course in competitive play previously. We have high expectations as we head down there.'
BEAR LINEUP: Cal's lineup (in order, with 2008-09 statistics)
Player YR RDS STROKES AVG LOW TOP FINISHGeorge Gandranata Sr. 12 881 73.8 70 T7Stephen Hale So. 15 1107 73.8 68 T16Kent Yamane Sr. 6 444 74.0 72 T16Eric Mina So. 15 1094 72.9 68 T3Michael Jensen Jr. 12 872 72.7 69 T1
LINEUP LOOK: Senior George Gandranta leads the lineup for the second straight competition of the spring and will loo to improve on his 45th-place finish last year at this event. He is joined by sophomore Stephen Hale, senior co-captain Kent Yamane, sophomore Eric Mina and redshirt-senior Michael Jensen, whose fall season included a tie for first at the S.F. Intercollegiate. In addition, freshman Jeff Hamm will play the as an individual. Strong Pac-10 representation and tough teams makes this a 'good measuring stick,' Desimone says.
A LOOK AT THE FIELD: The 14-team field for the 2009 USC Collegiate Invitational consists of BYU, Cal, Fresno State, LMU, Pacific, Oregon, Oregon State, Pepperdine, San Diego St., Stanford, UC Irvine, UCLA, host USC and Washington.
LAST YEAR: 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 in 2008. The Bears shot a final round 292, the third-best round of the day on Tuesday, to climb three spots for their third top-five effort of the year. Host USC won the event with a three-round total of 885 (+33), followed closely by Tennessee (889, +37). Stanford (890, +38) and Pepperdine (898, +46) were the only other teams ahead of the Golden Bears, who tallied a three-round 899 (+47). 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. 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. Hale and Beck both had four birdies in the final round; Hale's nine in the full tournament paced Cal. 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. Junior George Gandranata registered a 232 (+19) to tie for 45th place overall.
DERIAN DONE FOR THE YEAR: Evan Derian's back problems have led to the decision for him to hang up his spikes for the year. Coach Desimone says they intend to apply for a medical hardship to grant Derian an additional year of eligibilty.