Late Surge Catapults Cal to Prestige Victory

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The leaderboard at The Prestige at PGA West flashed blue and gold all week, as the No. 22 Cal men's golf team shot a lights-out 864 even par score to capture its first title of the season.

The three-day, 54-hole tournament in La Quinta, Calif, which finished on Tuesday, featured relatively high scores from most of the 15 participating teams. While the TPC Stadium Course did not give much away to the players, the Bears found a way to go low.

The squad grabbed a four-stroke lead after the first round of play and didn't look back. No. 21 Stanford and No. 7 Washington finished tied at second, three shots behind Cal. The Bears finished with three of their five players in the top-25 of the final individual standings.

Despite cruising along through most of the event, Cal found itself neck and neck with Stanford heading into the final round, with both teams tied for first at 1-under par. However, fueled by freshman stalwart Ben An's stellar 4-under par 68 in the final round, the Bears where pulled through with the win.

"Needless to say it was a great day today," coach Steve Desimone said. "They hung tough and managed to prevail."

Sophomore Max Homa, who leads the team in scoring average this season, struggled during the final round, shooting a 7-over par 79 and finishing tied for 23rd. Desimone said the fact that the team was able to finish without a spectacular final round from Homa, who has played a key role in the Bears' success this season, was a testament to its strength.

"We have five great players that can all compete and play at any time and that's what you need to compete in college golf," Desimone said. "It's a tribute to this team that we were able to carry Max because he's been able to carry us quite a bit this season."

Cal was unable to finish in the clutch two weeks ago at the Windon Memorial Classic, where it ended up a mere two shots behind the eventual winner because of key mistakes during the final nine holes of play.

Tuesday was a completely different story for the Bears, who dropped in clutch putt after clutch putt and minimized course management errors.

"This is a great veteran team, and we went down the back nine today counting on each other," Desimone said. "This was just fabulous golf, really well played over the last three or four holes."

Senior Stephen Hale played his best golf of the season, shooting rounds of 71, 71, and 72 to finish tied for sixth at 2-under par. Hale was another key ingredient to Cal's win, playing big down the stretch.

"I didn't make a lot of mistakes, made putts and tried to just make pars," Hale said. "I just kind of kept going along and it's nice to see we put together three consistent rounds."

Senior Eric Mina and sophomore Michael Weaver rounded out the Bears' scoring with 8-over par finishes.

Tags: CAL MEN'S GOLF, STEVE DESIMONE, ERIC MINA, BEN AN


Aaron Lee covers men's golf. Contact him at [email protected]



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