Bears qualify for the NCAA Championships

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The No. 5 Cal women's golf team has not played in the NCAA Championships since 2006, but that drought ended on Saturday. The Bears finished fifth in the NCAA East Regionals on the LPGA International Legends Course in Daytona Beach, Fla.

In a field of 24 teams, only the top eight were able to qualify for the tournament.

Cal was 14-over with a three-day score of 878 at the par-72 course. The Bears finished right in the middle of the top eight qualified teams, 12 strokes below first-place Alabama and 12 strokes above eighth-place Vanderbilt.

"Fifth place in the tournament was just fine because it was only a qualifying tournament," Cal coach Nancy McDaniel said. "I truly believe that we can improve a lot by next week when the NCAA Championships start."

Before the tournament in Florida, McDaniel's squad had concerns about adjusting their bodies to the East Coast time and climates, having never traveled beyond Arizona this season. In preparing for Daytona Beach, the squad woke up at 5 a.m. and trained early in order to get acclimated to the time difference.

Cal got off to a great start in the Sunshine State, finishing the first day in third place overall. Junior Daniela Holmqvist, who played in the NCAA Championships as a freshman at Tulane University, shot a 2-under to set the tone for the Bears from the beginning of the tournament.

But on the Friday and Saturday, it was lone senior Pia Halbig who picked up the torch for Cal, as she shot a 2-under on both days. While Holmqvist struggled in the final round with a 9-over, Halbig helped steer the squad to its fifth place landing. Halbig tied for second in the tournament, shooting a 3-under.

"Pia's been here for four years and we played an entire team effort behind her," McDaniel said of Halbig's performance at Daytona Beach this past week "That was a sweet, sweet ending for the regionals and (for) her."

Halbig has been the team's leader for much of the season; the Germany native finished fourth in the Pac-10 Regionals four weeks ago, helping the Bears to a fourth-place team finish behind No. 1 USC, No. 9 Arizona, and No. 2 UCLA respectively. The performance last month helped the team advance to the NCAA Regionals.

Junior Joanne Lee also turned in a solid tournament for Cal. The San Carlos, Calif. native matched Halbig by shooting a 1-over in the opening round, and finished tied for 31st overall with a 6-over for the tournament.

This year's ride to the NCAA Championships is the seventh in program history, after Cal made the tournament for six consecutive seasons from 2001 to 2006.

The Bears are looking for their first ever national title and will travel to College Station, Texas for the NCAA Championships, which start on May 18.

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


Contact Seung at [email protected]



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