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Despite slow start, Cal Men’s Golf advances to NCAA Championships

Bears collectively did not play their best, but still earned a spot in the NCAA championships.

KK Limbhasut was the Bears’ top finisher at 9th place.
Cal Men’s Golf Twitter (Photo credit: Todd Drexler)

Despite having enough talent to not just make a deep run at the NCAA Championships but also win it, Cal Men’s Golf nearly missed the NCAA Championships for the third consecutive year (although only last year was really considered a disappointment) in a row. Golden Bears really only played 1.5 great rounds at the Myrtle Beach Regional earlier this week - the back 9 on Day 1 to give themselves a chance and Round 3 on Day 3 to clinch a top 5 finish to advance to the NCAA Championships for the first time as a team since 2016.

Cal superstar senior Collin Morikawa only finished with a -2 score to placed 14th - Morikawa had finished in the top 8 in every stroke event before this. His fellow senior teammate KK Limbhasut -6 for 9th and Sebastian Crampton -4 for 11th picked up some of the slack. Sophomore Kaiwen Lu also tied with Morikawa at -2 while freshman James Song finished at +8 for 58th. Only the top 4 scores of each round out of the 5 players count toward the team score.

Bears started the front 9 of the first round in 10th place but just 3 strokes back. They bounced back with a strong back 9 to finish even and in a tie for 5th place. Day 2 saw the Bears thread water with -2 for the day to take sole possession for 5th place. Bears finally woke up from hibernation on Day 3 to shoot -12 for the round to claim 4th place (and just one stroke behind 3rd Wake Forest). Illinois won the Regional with -25 for the 3 rounds while The Ohio State was 2nd at -20. UNLV edged Florida State and Oregon for the final team spot out of this regional.

The way that the Bears played on the final round is precisely why they are a dangerous squad in the NCAA Championships - both for the stroke play (where teams need to finish in the top 8) and then in the match play, knock-out stage, given the experience and depth.

With high expectations given the three talented seniors on the team, Bears are glad to have a shot at winning only the program’s 2nd NCAA championship (the only one came in 2004).

The NCAA Championships will take place on May 24-29 at the The Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas.