Bears Hit The Islands For Pac-12 Preview
The Cal women's golf team's lineup is coming together so much that the Bears don't know what that lineup is going to look like from tournament to tournament.
Cal has created a good deal of depth among its nine-player roster, and the level of play is making for stiff competition during team qualifying rounds. The Bears' lineup for this week's Pac-12 Preview at Nanea Golf Club in Kailua-Kona, Hawai'I includes two players that weren't part of the rotation two weeks ago at the Stanford Intercollegiate.
"I just think there's been a shift. People are really coming around," Cal head coach Nancy McDaniel said. "But it's a whole team effort. You have to be right around par in qualifying right now, and that helps elevate everybody's game."
The Bears hold qualifying rounds before each tournament – akin to intrasquad scrimmages to determine who earns the right to play. The fact that Cal's top five qualifiers for the Pac-12 Preview didn't include sophomore Mika Jin – who has the lowest scoring average on the team so far this season – demonstrates how competitive spots in the Bears' lineup has become.
"Everyone realizes they have to keep their game sharp," McDaniel said.
This week's tournament will mark the return of senior Katherine Zhu, who missed the Stanford Intercollegiate to compete in Stage II of LPGA Qualifying Tour in Venice, Florida. Zhu has led the Bears in scoring average in each of the past two seasons and the tournament at Stanford was the first she has missed during her Cal career.
Zhu acquitted herself well in Florida, placing in a tie for 85th out of 180 competitors. Zhu also tied for 14th among the only 27 amateurs in the field.
"Katherine brought back an energy," McDaniel said. "She came back with great enthusiasm and also a sort of a peaceful confidence around her. You only have that aura around you if you have experience. That experience is just another step in the direction of being an elite player."
The Pac-12 Preview will also see the return of junior Tzu-Yi Chang, who was forced to withdraw from the season-opening Branch Law Firm/Dick McGuire Invitational and hasn't competed since. Chang was second on the team in scoring average as a freshman before missing the fall season as a sophomore.
"She played her way back in qualifying," McDaniel said. "She's back to her normal healthy self. It's good to see. It's always good when you have all nine players healthy."
The Pac-12 Preview features all 11 conference schools that sponsor women's golf, and the University of Hawai'i. The 54-hole tournament will take place Monday through Wednesday.
1. Katherine Zhu
2. Eun Soo Jeon
3. Elena Arias
4. Tzu-Yi Chang
5. Jasmine Lew