Cal Wins Ihlanfeldt Invitational In a Homecoming for McDaniel

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Teeing off for the final round of the Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational in Sammamish, Wash., the No. 17 Cal women's golf team held a 10-stroke lead in what would become coach Nancy McDaniel's first victory for the Bears on her former home course.

"This win was completely satisfying," McDaniel said. "I was a (Washington golfer) way back when. I played here and coached here, and to finally win here is really refreshing."

Cal made a clear statement about its ability to contend with the best, dominating a field that included challenging competition to finish atop the leaderboard by a 15-stroke margin over second-place Stanford.

Equally refreshing for the Bears was the emergence of Colorado transfer Emily Childs. Finishing at 5-over for the tournament, Childs took third place.

"Emily was absolutely awesome," McDaniel said. "Three good rounds says a lot about her composure and mental toughness."

USC transfer Joanne Lee also surfaced at an opportune time for Cal, finishing tied for fourth at 7-over for the tournament.

Childs and Lee's surprising success was balanced by the surprising, stuttering finish of junior All-American Pia Halbig. Entering the final round in sole possession of third place, Halbig shot 6-over through the last 18 holes to finish in sixth place.

"The putting got to her," McDaniel said. "Her butterflies usually fly in formation, but she has such high expectations for herself, and when it doesn't go as planned, you get frustrated."

While Halbig may be discontented with her finish, landing three golfers in the top 10 of a tournament went a long way toward a team victory. But although Cal may be pleased, it isn't totally satisfied.

"I was surprised we could win by that much," McDaniel said. "We didn't play great, just played solid golf. There are certainly many areas to improve. The other teams just didn't bring it this weekend."

Regardless, McDaniel drew positives from her team's second tournament of the year, particularly in the short game.

Coming off a second-place finish at last month's Golfweek Challenge, where four Bears players failed to sink potentially winning birdie putts on the 18th hole, there were vast improvements on a notoriously difficult putting course.

"Putting was a huge improvement, besides a couple of bouts of three-putts," McDaniel said. "Nobody had any crazy greens even though they were so fast. While other teams let the greens rattle them, we didn't."

The momentum of capturing the fall campaign's first victory comes at a crucial time, as Cal prepares to travel to play the Cardinal later this month.

"Stanford coming up is really going to bring it to the next level," McDaniel said. "Upcoming tournaments with (the Cardinal), ASU and other top teams will really challenge us."

Tags: CAL WOMEN'S GOLF, NANCY MCDANIEL, PIA HALBIG


Contact David Seawright at [email protected]



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