No. 21/25 Cal Plays at National Invitational Tournament Wednesday-Thursday

March 16, 2010

Wed., Mar. 16 (7:30 a.m. PDT) - National Invitational Tournament (Tucson, AZ - Omni Tucson National
Thu., Mar. 17 (7:30 a.m. PDT) - National Invitational Tournament (Tucson, AZ - Omni Tucson National

Cal's spring slate rolls on at the 2010 National Invitational Tournament hosted by the University of Arizona this Wednesday-Thursday, Mar. 16-17. The 54-hole event will take place at Omni Tucson National with the first 36 holes scheduled to be played Wednesday and the final 18 set for Thursday. Play begins each day at 7:30 a.m. PDT.

Live results from the National Invitaitonal Tournament will be available via a link from both days of the event. A recap and complete results will also be available at after the conclusion of play each day.

Cal dropped three and four places respectively in the latest national rankings and is now ranked No. 21 by Golfweek and No. 25 according to Golfstat. The Bears were No. 18 and No. 21, respectively, before finishing ninth out of 16 teams in its most recent outing Mar. 8-9 at the Fresno Lexus Classic. The Bears began the spring ranked No. 30 (Golfweek) and No. 33 (Golfstat) but have been as high as No. 16 (Golfweek) after winning its first tournament of the 2010 spring season Feb. 1-2 at the Arizona Intercollegiate in Tucson. Their highest position in the Golfstat rankings this season is No. 21.

Cal will be making just its second appearance in the National Invitational Tournament in 2010. The Bears were in a similar position coming off a tough performance when they played the event last season for the first time in school history and responded by finishing fifth at the event the week after a season-worst 15th-place showing at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Championship. The Bears were led at the event in 2009 by Eric Mina (72-70-71 - 213, -3), who tied for fifth place. Two other members of this year's team - John Murphy (11th-T, 73-71-72 - 216, E) and Stephen Hale (25th-T, 70-77-72 - 216, E) - also participated last year. New Mexico (280-280-290 - 850, -9) won last year's event and also featured the individual medalist in Nick Guyer, who carded a minus-9 score of 207 (66-71-70).

The National Invitational Tournament has been held annually since 2003. The field for this year's event at the par-72, 7,094-yard Omni Tucson National in Tucson, Ariz. will feature 14 teams with three ranked in the top 20 nationally in either Golfweek or Golfstat and a total of nine in the top 50. The teams in the top 20 include Texas (No. 3 GS, No. 5 GW), California (No. 21 GW, No. 25 GS), TCU (No. 17 GW, No. 29 GS) and Texas Tech (No. 16 GW, No. 16 GS), while the top 50 squads are Colorado State (No. 32 GWO, No. 38 GS), SMU (No. 33 GS, No. 35 GWO), Arizona (No. 43 GW, No. 50 GS), Baylor (No. 43 GS, No. 44 GW) and New Mexico (No. 45 GS, No. 47 GW). The remainder of the field includes Purdue, Texas-El Paso, Tulsa and Wyoming. Arizona also has a second squad playing in the event. Each team will field five players with the top four scoring.

The Cal men's golf team won a school-record-tying three regular-season tournaments during its five outings of 2009-10. The Golden Bears captured the Spartan Golf Classic (Sept. 19-20) hosted by Michigan State and its own Alister MacKenize Invitational (Oct. 12) in the fall of 2009. Cal then started the spring portion of its schedule with a victory at the Arizona Intercollegiate (Feb. 1-2). The Bears have finished in the top four in six of the eight events they have played overall, taking second at the USC Collegiate Invitational (Mar. 1-2), tied for third at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate (Feb. 17-19) hosted by Hawai'i and fourth at the season-opening Golfweek Conference Challenge (Aug. 30 - Sept. 1) hosted by Iowa. The only times the Bears have placed out of the top four at a tournament in 2009-10 have been a ninth-place finish at the Fresno Lexus Classic in their most recent outing and a 12th-place showing at the Windon Memorial (Oct. 4-5) last fall. The Bears have also had a pair of individual medalists this season with Eric Mina winning the Spartan Golf Classic and Stephen Hale taking the Alister McKenzie Invitational.

Cal's lineup (in order, with 2009-10 Cal statistics and national rankings)

PLAYER (SPOT)	YR	RDS	STROKES	AVG	LOW	TOP FINISH	GW RANK	GS RANKEric Mina (1)	Jr.	23	1624	70.6	67	1	41	24Stephen Hale (2)	Jr.	23	1635	71.1	63	1	56	50Max Homa (3)	Fr.	9	658	73.1	67	T16	17*	---Michael Weaver (4)	Fr.	11	778	70.7	64	T2	94	94Chad Vivolo (5)	Jr.	20	1441	72.1	66	6	223	226*secondary ranking; not enough rounds to qualify for primary ranking

The Bears lineup will be the same as the team members finished in their most recent outing March 8-9 at the Fresno Lexus Classic. Eric Mina, who has been the team's most consistent golfer in the spring with top 20 finishes in each of his four events, returns to the top of the lineup after posting the top finish by a Cal player for the second time in three outings in Fresno. Mina (68-76-71 - 215, +2) was a couple shots better than Stephen Hale (72-70-75 - 217, +4), who play in the No. 2 spot again this week. Max Homa moves up to the No. 3 spot after a blistering three-under par 68 on the final day in Fresno gave him the team's third-best score as he finished tied for 43rd overall with an 11-over par score of 224 (76-80-68). Michael Weaver will drop three spots to No. 4 after playing in the top spot in Fresno for the Bears when he returned to the lineup after missing the team's previous two events due to. Weaver (73-77-76 - 226, +13) tied for 52nd in Fresno after having tying for second place in an impressive showing at the Arizona Intercollegiate that opened the team's spring schedule February 1-2. Chad Vivolo will be in the team's fifth and final spot after finishing tied for 74 th in Fresno with a 17-over par score of 230 (77-75-78).

DES SAYS (Head coach Steve Desimone talks about the Bears)
On the current state of the team
'Our showing at the Lexus Fresno Classic the last time was our most disappointing finish this year. It's a little hard to get a handle with what's going on. Two weeks ago, we clearly looked like one of the best teams in the country and then last week we took a number of steps back. I'm curious to see how we respond this week.'

On this week's National Invitational Tournament
'We played fairly well at the event last year. It's a course that we're familiar and comfortable with. Some of the guys played the Southwest Invitational amateur event here over the summer, so there's no question we know the golf course. It's just a question of which game will we bring. Is it the game we had two weeks ago, or hopefully not the one we had last week.'

On his hopes for improved weather compared to cold weather at the Fresno Lexus Classic
'The weather looks good. We may get some decent winds, but the temperature is up in the mid to high 70's, we may even sneak into the low 80's. We're wearing shorts for the first time year other than Hawaii. We're not going to have any weather issues this time around. We're here to play and we'll see how it goes.'

On what he's looking for from his team this week
'We're used to either winning, or finishing in the top three or four. I don't think there's any question that's what we're looking to do. It's time to bounce back.'

Cal men's golf has made amazing strides since Steve Desimone (Cal, 1970) began his tenure as head coach in the spring of 1980, evolving from a club sport into one of the elite varsity golf programs in the country in the 1990's before winning the NCAA title in 2004. In the midst of his 31st season at the helm of Cal golf, Desimone is largely responsible for the level of success enjoyed by the program. He was named Golfweek's 2003-04 College Coach of the Year and was presented with the 2004 Grand Master of the Year award by the Northern California Golf Association after leading the Golden Bears to the 2004 national title. Desimone has directed the Bears to 14 NCAA West Regionals (1990, '93, '95, '97, '98, '99, 2000, '01, '02, '03, '04, '07, '08, '09) and five NCAA Championship events (1995, '98, '99, 2000, '04). He was voted Pac-10 Co-Coach of the Year in 1987. A member of the Cal basketball team as an undergraduate, Desimone graduated from Cal in 1970.

Associate head coach Walter Chun (Cal, 2001) is in his sixth season on the Bears coaching staff and his first in his current role. Chun, who spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Cal from 2004-09, was named the 2008 Jan Strickland Award winner honoring best assistant coach in the nation.

Director of Golf Operations Curt David (Pacific, 1989) and volunteer assistant coach Gene Bakkum (UC Davis, 2000) are also in their sixth season with the Bears. George Gandranata (Cal, 2010) is in his first season as a Cal volunteer undergraduate assistant.