Cal Men’s Golf Advances To NCAA Championships

Photo credit: Denis Poroy/KLC Fotos

California will return to the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships for the first time since 2019 and 13th time in program history, punching its ticket with a second-place finish at the Rancho Santa Fe Regional at The Farms Golf Club on Wednesday afternoon.

 The 22nd-ranked and fourth-seeded Golden Bears shot their lowest 18-hole score of the regional with a 1-under-par 279 in the third round and finished the 54-hole championship event at 3-over-par (280-284-279 – 843). Oklahoma shot a scorching 11-under-par 269 in the third round to climb four spots and clinch the regional title, while Oklahoma State (+5), West Virginia (+5) and North Florida (+10) rounded out the five advancing teams that will play in the NCAA Championships on May 24-29 in Carlsbad.

 “I’m extremely proud of this group – all week they showed a tremendous amount of grit and determination,” Alex and Marie Shipman Director of Men’s Golf Walter Chun said. “There’s a great deal of pressure at this level, and they handled it so well. I’m thankful for this team and excited to see them play for a national championship.”

 Sampson Zheng completed an impressive individual week at The Farms, tying for second place individually at 4-under-par to lead the Bears. The Cal senior entered the day atop the leaderboard at 5-under-par and got off to a hot start, going 2-under on the front nine with birdies on holes 1, 3 and 7. A double-bogey on hole 12 tripped him up, however, and an additional bogey on 16 moved him to 1-over on the day. Oklahoma’s Ben Lorenz (-8) was the individual medalist, shooting a regional-low 6-under 64 in the third round to surpass Zheng.

 Just a day after he was substituted into the lineup in place of Kuangyu (Tony) Chen, it was Nathan Wang who delivered Cal’s best third-round score with a 3-under 67. The sophomore was nearly flawless, carding a birdie on hole 3 before adding four more on the back nine to work around a double-bogey on 13. He finished with a 36-hole score of even-par 140.

Eric Lee rounded out an eye-catching NCAA postseason debut with a 1-over 71 on Wednesday and finished tied for seventh at even par. The freshman notched an eagle on the par-5 hole 3 and birdied the next hole before battling through four bogeys the rest of the way. Jeewon Park – who tied for 29th at the Pac-12 Championship – notched his first top-25 finish of the season at 5-over-par. The senior was up and down over his final 12 holes, amassing five birdies, a triple bogey and two bogeys on the way to a 1-over 71.

Fellow freshman Ethan Fang carded Cal’s second-lowest score of the day with an even-par 70 and finished the regional tied for 39th at 9-over.

Cal most recently placed 10th at the 2019 NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Golden Bears won the 2004 NCAA title and tied for third in consecutive seasons in 2012 and 2013. Cal great and current PGA standout Max Homa is the only Golden Bear to win an NCAA individual title (2013).