Cal (287-287-284 – 858, -6) rallied from nine strokes back at the beginning of Tuesday’s third and final round to win the Tavistock Collegiate Invitational and complete a worst-to-first turnaround after the Golden Bears finished last in the prestigious event that annually has one of the best fields in collegiate golf last season. Collin Morikawa (72-69-66 – 207, -9) led the effort Tuesday by firing a six-under par 66 that was the best round of the day and tied for the best of the event on his way to a second-place showing behind individual medalist Dylan Meyer of Illinois (67-66-72 – 205, -11).
“Words can’t describe how happy and proud I am of all five guys,” Alex and Marie Shipman Director of Men’s Golf Walter Chun said.
“This is definitely the biggest win for the team the three years I have been here,” Morikawa said. “To come back from that many shots behind at the start of the day shows what our team can accomplish.”
The team victory was Cal’s second in a row after winning its own Alister MacKenzie Invitational in the Bears’ previous event for their first win in nearly two years.
Morikawa fired seven birdies Tuesday with none more spectacular than the 81-foot putt he drained on the par-five third hole to start the day with three in a row. He would make his only bogey over the final two rounds on the par-three fifth but added four more birdies on the par-four sixth and 12th holes, as well as the par-five 13th and 17th.
“Every day got better obviously on score but also the mental side throughout the week,” Morikawa said. “I got off to a hot start and played very solidly today.”
Cal still trailed second-round leader Illinois by two strokes until the 17th hole when birdies by Morikawa and Sebastian Crampton helped the four scoring Bears play the hole in one-under par while the Fighting Illini scorers were four-over par with a pair of double bogeys. Illinois got two shots back on the 18th hole when all four of its scoring players made par while Crampton and KK Limbhasut bogeyed for the Bears but Morikawa two-putted for par from 40 feet and Kaiwen Liu also made par to keep the Bears in front. After Morikawa tapped in for par, Florida’s Gordon Neale had one final attempt to pull the Gators into a tie with the Bears by making a third consecutive birdie but his 10-foot putt from above the hole fell short.
“It wasn’t over until everyone finished out and every shot definitely counted today,” Morikawa said. “I’m really proud of everyone on the team. It was a team effort. Everyone contributed throughout the week and we knew if we played well today we would be able to put some pressure on Illinois and Florida.”
“We played hard and just never relented,” Chun said. “Illinois and Florida are great teams, and to come from behind to beat those teams says so much about our character.”
Illinois (279-286-294 – 859, -5) and Florida (282-285-292 – 859, -5) would both end up a single shot behind the Bears in a tie for second.
Limbhasut (73-70-72 – 215, -1) was the next Cal player on the leaderboard in a tie for 17th and also had the team’s second-best round of the day with his even-par 72. Limbhasut was three-under par for the round and got to four-under par for the tournament after birdies on the par-five seventh, par-four 10th and par-three 11th but had bogeys on the par-five 13th, and par-four 16th and 18th to give those three shots back.
Liu (71-76-73 – 220, +4) and Crampton (77-72-73 – 222, +6) finished tied for 31st and 44th on the final leaderboard. Both scored for the Bears with one-over par rounds of 73 on Tuesday. Liu had two birdies (7, 10) and three bogeys (2, 4, 17), while Crampton had three birdies (7, 15, 17) and four bogeys (3, 4, 14, 18).
Ben Doyle (71-77-79 – 227, +11) was also in the lineup for the Bears and finished in a tie for 65th. He had two birdies (2, 13), two bogeys (12, 18), two double bogeys (1, 3) and a triple bogey (8) on Tuesday.
Cal closes its 2017 fall season November 3-5 at the Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational hosted by Hawai’i at the Ka’anapali Golf Resort in Lahaina, Hawaii.
“We all look forward to finishing this fall on a high note in Hawaii,” Morikawa said.