Fresno State Lexus: Cal Bears set school record with 7th win
Michael Kim
Michael Kim

FRESNO, Calif. – No. 1 Cal (346-348-343 – 1037, -43) set a school record with its seventh win in eight tournaments this season by closing out a dominating 37-stroke victory Tuesday at the Fresno State Lexus Classic held at the Belmont Country Club. Michael Kim (68-65-67 – 200, -16) tied a school record with his third victory of the season, while teammates Brandon Hagy (68-69-69 – 206, -10) and Michael Weaver (69-68-70 – 207) finished second and third as the Golden Bears posted the top team score in each of the event’s three rounds.

“We’ve won a national championship and done some tremendous things in the program but winning seven tournaments in a year is just unbelievable,” head coach Steve Desimone said. “It was just another wonderful performance by this great team and shows why it has been No. 1 almost the entire year. The guys just keep doing all the right things.”

“I had a number of coaches come up to me today and said as long as they’ve been doing this they’ve never seen a team have a season like we’re having,” Desimone added. “Winning seven of our first eight tournaments you better believe I’ve pinched myself more than once. It’s absolutely unheard of. It just doesn’t happen in a sport like college golf.”

The 1-2-3 individual finish of Kim, Hagy and Weaver marked the second consecutive tournament that Cal players were in the top three spots after having never done it before in the history of the program. Weaver was the only player to be a member of both trios with third place finishes in both events, while Joël Stalter and Max Homa were first and second in Cal’s previous event at the John A. Burns Intercollegiate.

“It shows the balance and quality depth of this team,” Desimone said. “There are just so many great players up-and-down the lineup. At any time any one of them can get going, and at times three, four or five of them can get going. That’s happened each of the last two tournaments. We basically have five No. 1 players.”

Reigning Pac-12 Golfer of the Month Joël Stalter (69-73-68 – 210, -6) jumped nine spots Tuesday to tie for seventh, while Max Homa (73-73-69 – 215, -1) moved up 20 spots to tie for 22nd and James Yoon (72-73-74 – 219, +3) tied for 35th.

Kim started his final round Tuesday with a four-shot lead and was never in any danger on his way to a six-stroke margin and his third tournament win in his last four events. Any doubt of his eventual victory seemed to be erased with three consecutive birdies on the par-five fifth, and the par-four sixth and seventh holes of the day. His lone bogey came on the par-four 10th, but he added three more birdies on the par-three 13th, par-four 16th and par-five 18th to close out the win. Over three rounds, Kim birdied 21 of 54 holes.

“It was a great team effort,” Kim said. “We all played really well and everybody did a good job not thinking about our big lead and playing like we only had a slim lead. As for me, I wanted to go out there and just play without thinking about the lead, and I did a good job of that. Everything was sharp this week for me, from ball striking to putting.”

Hagy returned to the lineup with a vengeance after not playing in the team’s most recent event as his 20 birdies in the tournament were only one behind Kim. Hagy had six of his birdies Tuesday, including on back-to-back occasions twice on the sixth and seventh holes, and then again on the par-four 12th and par-three 13th. His other birdies came on the par-five ninth and par-four 17th holes. Hagy’s two final-round blemishes came with a bogey on the par-four first hole and a double bogey on the 10th.

“It was another big victory and was pretty impressive winning by the margin we did,” Hagy said. “We continued to show consistency throughout the team with four players in the top 10. As for me, I hit the ball well and when I had a bad hole I was able to come right back with birdies, which showed lots of patience.”

Playing in his hometown the Fresno native Weaver was up-and-down throughout his first 10 holes, three times making bogeys after birdies on the previous hole. The stretch started with a birdie on three followed by a bogey on four, both par fours. He came right back with a birdie on five before bogeying six. He would later birdie nine only to be followed by another bogey on 10. Over his final eight holes, he had a pair of birdies on the 12th and par-four 15th holes without another bogey.

“It was a great day again for us,” Weaver said. “It was pretty special to break the win record from last year today, especially with how early in the season it came. Individually, I’m really happy with how I played at home. Coming in I was hoping to play well and make a good run.”

Stalter had the team’s second-best round of the day Tuesday with a four-under par 68. He had an early bogey on the third hole but was five-under over his final 15 holes with five birdies (5, 9, 10, 15, 17) and 10 pars.

Homa had a bogey on the first hole Tuesday before birdies on the fourth, par-three eighth, 16th and 17th holes.

Yoon birdied the first, 10th and 12th holes, while making bogeys on the fourth, eighth, 13th, 15th and 16th.

Cal will be back in action at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters hosted by UNLV at the par-72, 7,510-yard Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas this Friday-Sunday, May 8-10. The 15-team field features 12 of the nation’s highest-ranked 13 teams according to Golfstat, while Cal, Texas and Alabama are the top-three ranked teams by Golfweek.

“We’ll have a great field at Southern Highlands and play a very challenging and demanding golf course,” Desimone said. “This is a critical tournament for us and is a great time for us to be playing in this event. It will be 54 holes of tremendous golf.”

The Bears have won 13 of their last 22 tournaments overall dating back to the beginning of the 2011-12 campaign and finished in the top five in all 22.

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ABOUT THE Nick Watney Collegiate

54 hole men's college tournament hosted by Fresno State University. Team (best four scores out of five players each round) and individual competitions.

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