No. 2 California bolts out to 13-shot lead at National Invitational Tournament
TUCSON, Ariz. -- No. 2 Cal jumped out to a 13-stroke lead Friday after firing a 20-under par round of 268 as a team in the opening round of the National Invitational Tournament. Host Arizona (281, -7) and Oklahoma State (282, -6) are second and third after 18 holes at the par-72, 7,200-yard Catalina Course at the Omni Tucson National Resort.
Brandon Hagy (64, -8) leads teammate and second-place Michael Weaver (67, -5) by three strokes at the end of the first round, while Joël Stalter (68, -4) is a shot behind Weaver tied for third with four others. Keelan Kilpatrick (69, -3) is tied for eighth and James Yoon (70, -2) tied for 12th to round out the Bears. Shotaro Ban (76, +4) is playing as an individual and tied for 63rd.
“I played solid all the way around,” Hagy said about a round that tied for his lowest of the year and second-lowest of his career. “I hit a lot of good wedge shots and putted great from there.”
The Golden Bears are playing for the first time since finishing eighth at the prestigious Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters last Friday-Sunday, ending a string of 37 consecutive top-five finishes dating back to the beginning of the 2011-12 campaign. Cal won 23 of 33 stroke-play events during that stretch with the other four events top-five finishes in match play.
“What a difference a week makes,” head coach Steve Desimone said. “A week ago today we played our worst round in a decade, especially on the front nine. Today, we got started beautifully and we just kept making putts, hitting good shots and playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played. I don’t know if we could have played any better.”