Men's Golf Captures Tournament Title





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Steve Desimone has been saying it for the last couple of months. Han Lee could sense that he was on the verge a month ago.

On a soggy Sunday afternoon in Palo Alto, both the Cal men's golf coach and his No. 1 player's premonitions became reality when the Bears won the U.S. Intercollegiate at the par-71 Stanford Golf Course. Lee took medalist honors, winning his second tournament of the 1999-2000 season.

Cal posted a three-round total of 855 to edge Pepperdine by a shot, and claim its first tournament title of the season. Lee's 6-under (72-68-67) 207 was two shots better than Michael Beard of Pepperdine, who finished second. The tournament capped what has been a surging spring for the Bears.

"There are lots of ways to say it, but winning down at Stanford is something special," Desimone said. "I'm so proud of the team. We just seem to get better and better. It's a great way to finish the season. Now it's on to (NCAA) Regionals."

After slipping to third place at the Pac-10 Championships, the Bears came through when it counted Sunday, shooting the best score of the tournament (280) in the final round.

Leading the team was Lee. He was even-par after his first nine holes Sunday, but was spurred by an eagle on the uphill 535-yard 16th hole on the way to his 4-under finish. Lee crushed his drive, hit a two iron from 230 yards out to nine feet from the pin and made the short, but tough, breaking putt.

"It was something I was looking forward to," Lee said of the 16th. "It's just one of those things that happens. You get juiced up in the midst of the competition. To get a chance to be there on the back nine is what it's all about. It's kind of addicting."

Also making a final round charge was freshman J.R. Ruda, who shot 68 Sunday en route to a tie for ninth place at 217. At Stanford, Ruda did what he couldn't to at the Pac-10s, where he shot an 81 under final round pressure.

"He completely turned it around after what happened in Arizona," Desimone said. "He putted a lot better and he's always been a good ball-striker and he came through for us on Sunday."

Also finishing near the top of the leaderboard was Walter Chun, who shot three steady rounds (72-73-73) and tied for 12th place at 218.

"Walter has come in and started fulfilling the potential he showed last year," Desimone said "The way he chips and putts, he's never out of hole."

Senior Robert Hamilton was the fourth Cal player to finish in the top-20, shooting three solid rounds of golf (73-74-72 - 218) on the way to a tie for 15th.

"It's going to be hard to replace Robert Hamilton and Han Lee," Desimone said of his senior co-captains.

The tournament at Stanford was the conclusion of the Bears' regular season. Selections will be officially announced today, and the team is a shoe-in for an at-large bid in the 27-team NCAA Western Regional at Riverbend Golf Course next week in Madera, Calif.

For the Bears, the biggest tournament of the year couldn't come at a better time. While other teams in the region, like USC and Stanford, have sputtered as the season has progressed, Cal is playing its best golf of the year.

"This team has been working so hard all year," Lee said. "Coach has been reminding us of last year's success. He saw things in all of us that we haven't seen in ourselves. He told us what we were capable of before we actually did it. As a senior, the most meaningful thing is that we were so underrated all year, and no one saw us as a threat."

To advance to the 30-team NCAA tournament, Cal needs to finish in at least the top-9 at Regionals. Desimone said that the number of teams that the selection committee takes from the Western Regional has yet to be determined. In years past only the top-9 have advanced, but Desimone said there may be a 10th or 11th team selected.

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