The Cal men’s golf team, seeded No. 1 for the NCAA championships that begin Tuesday in suburban Atlanta, is the overwhelming favorite to win its second title in nine years.
But is there a special legacy awaiting the Golden Bears if they can walk away with the crown next Sunday?
Could they be considered the greatest collegiate golf team ever?
Junior Michael Weaver said winning next week “would put an exclamation point” on the Bears’ season. “There wouldn’t be any doubt we’re the best team they’ve ever seen.”
Perhaps it’s not that clear-cut, but the growing mountain of evidence is compelling:
– The Bears’ 11 tournament victories eclipsed the unofficial NCAA “modern-era” record of 10 since regional qualifying was added in 1988.
– Their record against NCAA Division I opponents in 13 tournaments is a combined 173-3-1, and they won their 11 titles by an average margin of 14.72 strokes.
– In the two tournaments they didn’t win, the Bears finished second and third, falling short by a total of four strokes.
– All five Cal golfers have won at least once tournament title, topped by sophomore Michael Kim’s four victories.
“I kind of shake my head, like you’ve got to be kidding me,” Steve Desimone, in his 34th year as Cal’s coach, said of his team’s performance.
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THE FANTASTIC FIVE
Here’s a breakdown of Cal’s top five golfers, with Golf Week national ranking in parenthesis:
– Michael Kim (1): Average 18-hole score 70.1, 4 tournament wins, 6 top-5 finishes.
– Joel Stalter (13): Average 18-hole score 70.7, 2 wins, 4 top-5 finishes.
– Michael Weaver (16): Average 18-hole score 70.9, 1 win, 6 top-5 finishes.
– Max Homa (20): Average 18-hole score 70.8, 1 win, 5 top-5 finishes.
– Brandon Hagy (23): Average 18-hole score 71.0, 1 win, 5 top-5 finishes.
BAY AREA CHAMPIONS AT NCAA GOLF
Cal is favored to become the ninth Bay Area team to win the NCAA golf championship. Here are the first eight to do it:
1948: San Jose State
x — The first official NCAA golf championship
y — Stanford shared title with LSU