California changes lineup after 1st loss of season

Max Homa, left, and Michael Kim of Cal

Max Homa, left, and Michael Kim of Cal

Cal head coach Steve Desimone has been in the coaching business for more than 30 years, but even he was impressed. “It was the best qualifying round I’ve ever seen,” he said. And it came from a freshman.

James Yoon’s course-record 62 last week at San Francisco Golf Club earned him a spot in the Bears’ lineup for this week’s John Burns Intercollegiate, which gets under way Wednesday. The Burns is Cal’s first event since it finished third at the Arizona Intercollegiate, ending the team’s five-event winning streak. The No. 1 Bears were undefeated after the fall season.

“It kind of shakes you up a little bit,” Desimone said about the winning streak’s conclusion. At least his team had an eventful qualifying process after Arizona. Michael Kim, the nation’s No. 1 player, made a double-eagle on the course’s 18th hole the same day as Yoon’s 62.

The Bears’ lineup will have a new look at the Burns. Yoon is playing in place of U.S. Amateur semifinalist Brandon Hagy. It’s the first time this season that one of Cal’s top four players – Hagy, Kim, Max Homa and Michael Weaver – isn’t in the lineup. Hagy, No. 14 in the R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking, won the Alister Mackenzie Invitational earlier this season.

Yoon, from Bradenton, Fla., will be making his collegiate debut. He was a first-team AJGA All-American last year.

Cal is the defending champion at the Burns. The team has a good chance of returning to its winning ways; it’s one of just three top-25 teams in the 15-team field. The others? No. 4 New Mexico and 25th-ranked Texas A&M. “It’ll be nice to come out and try to start a new (winning streak),” Homa said.

New Mexico is the team that ended Cal’s winning streak in Arizona. Cal is 3-1 against New Mexico this season, and has finished 44 shots ahead of the Lobos in those four events, 3,422-3,466, but the teams have split their past two meetings and been separated by just one stroke.

“It’s great to play against (Cal) because what they did in the fall is pretty special,” New Mexico head coach Glen Millican said. “If you’re able to beat them in tournaments, you know your team is getting better and playing great golf.”

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