Hale Sets Record, Mina Takes First in Spartan Classic

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A putt away from carding an eagle on the 17th hole of the second round of the Spartan Classic, Stephen Hale realized something.

"I was thinking, 'Wait, wait, wait. How many under am I?'" Hale said. "I was 6-under. I probably shouldn't have thought that. I missed the putt."

But Hale regained his composure and birdied both that hole and the next to finish the round with an 8-under 63-a new course record at the Kingsley Club in Kingsley, Mich.

"It was one of those rounds when I wasn't thinking about it the whole time which I guess was really good," he said. "It helped me. I didn't psych myself out or anything."

Hale's course record is just one way to start the story of the Cal men's golf team's weekend in Michigan, though.

Junior Eric Mina, last year's most consistent contributor, broke through to win his first collegiate tournament. Mina was under par in each of the three rounds, finishing at 10-under, two strokes better than Hale, the second-place finisher.

"This is big for him. The course record I shot (on Saturday) was awesome, but I'm so much more happy for Eric," Hale said. "That course wasn't easy, and he played awesome."

Mina and Hale's individual greatness were both part of the No. 24 Bears' overall team win, a commanding 16-under performance that was 11 strokes better than runner-up UC Davis.

It was an encouraging sign for Cal. Over the past year, a strong first round followed by bogey-prone second and third rounds became the prototype for a Cal tournament. But tied for first with the Aggies going into the final round, the Bears turned that trend around and recorded the best round of the day.

"We were expected to win. The expectation for us is that we wanted to win and that we could," Hale said. "We were the team to beat and we went out there and proved to ourselves that we were (even) under pressure."

Cal also saw the emergence of three of its newest faces in the Spartan Classic. Junior transfer Chad Vivolo was the Bears' third player to finish in the top 10 of the tournament, ending up in sixth place with a three-under.

Two true freshmen -- Brandon Hagy and Curtis Loop -- carded 10- and 15-overs, respectively, in their first collegiate tournament.

"It's important for the core group of veterans to stay strong, which we did. That will bleed into the younger guys as the year goes on," Hale said. "(Sunday's performance) was really important for our confidence. If we would have gone the other way and lost to Davis, I think that wouldn't have been very good for any of us. It would have started the year off wrong."


Contact Katie Dowd at [email protected]

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