2004: Tomasulo, Bears eye breakthrough
Peter Tomasulo and California are inching closer and closer to victory. And with the NCAA postseason rapidly approaching, the time to take that next step couldn’t be more perfect for the Bears and their senior co-captain.
Tomasulo, ranked No. 14 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, realizes his lack of a big victory – his only college title was a tie for first at the Barona Creek Collegiate Cup in fall 2002 – continues to hang over his head. Even a caption under a recent picture of Tomasulo on Cal’s athletics Web site read “always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” A postseason victory – by him or the Bears – would change that.
“It all just makes me want to work harder and to keep getting better,” Tomasulo said. “I can worry about what other people think or don’t think about me. I think if I keep improving, everything will fall into place. I can’t let myself get discouraged.”
After struggling in the fall, Tomasulo is back on track, with four top 3s in five spring events. Cal, ranked No. 16, also is improving, with a sixth, a fourth and two fifths followed by a second at its last event, the Western Intercollegiate. The steady progress is leading to high postseason expectations in Berkeley.
“We have two great players (Tomasulo and fellow senior co-captain Scott Carlyle) at the top of our lineup who are role models for our younger players and certainly lead by example,” said Cal coach Steve Desimone. “The other guys are solid and have proven they can play. . . . Come June I think we can compete for a national championship.”
Coming out of high school in Long Beach, Calif., Tomasulo didn’t have college coaches beating down his door. A good golfer, he was even better at soccer, helping his school to the state’s southern section title.
After rounds of 70-68-70 at the 1998 Long Beach City Golf Championship, Tomasulo lost in a playoff to Han Lee, then a member of the Cal golf team. Lee was impressed with Tomasulo’s game and demeanor, and before the day was over called Desimone and told him he needed to take a look. Soon, soccer was on the back burner and golf became Tomasulo’s lifeblood.
“Talk about finding a diamond in the rough, that’s what I feel I did when I signed Peter,” said Desimone.
“He’s a great student (a two-time Academic All-American), a great player (third team All-American last season) and just a wonderful person. If my son can turn out to be like Peter, I’ll be one happy camper.”
As a junior, Tomasulo set Cal’s single-season stroke average mark of 70.98, captured his first college title and was all-Pac 10 for a second consecutive year.
Still, outside of California, Tomasulo was pretty much an unknown. Last summer, he decided to do something about that and tested the waters against the country’s best amateurs. Tomasulo tied for second at the Monroe Invitational, tied for third at Rice Planters, tied for second at the Porter Cup, was a quarterfinalist at the Western Amateur, advanced to the second round of match play at the U.S. Amateur and was named first alternate for the 2003 U.S. Walker Cup team.
“I’m not going to lie to you. I was disappointed I didn’t get selected for the Walker Cup,” said Tomasulo. “I had a solid summer, but I didn’t win and I think that may have hurt my chances a little.”
Victory also has been an obstacle in his college career. And if there was a time for discouragement to set in, it would have been this past fall, as Tomasulo placed ninth, 13th and 20th in his three starts.
Instead, the 22-year-old took pride in his team, as the Bears got strong play from Carlyle and junior Jeff Hood to earn two victories and a runner-up finish.
“I was disappointed in the way I played because I had such a good summer,” Tomasulo said. “But I’m really excited for our team. I think our team sometimes goes under everyone’s radar, but I feel this is the best team the school has ever had.
“I feel we have the talent to win it all. I really believe that we have a shot at it.”