La Quinta, Calif. was buzzing Tuesday as The Prestige at PGA West went down to the wire, and the anticipated showdown between No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 Oregon heated up in the final round. After trailing by ten strokes going into the final round, the men’s golf team found itself just three strokes back of the Ducks for the team title on the back nine. The Cardinal couldn’t quite complete the comeback, but still managed to gain some ground and finish in third place behind Washington in a solid field at just the second event of the season.
Freshman Patrick Rodgers built on his first-place finish at the Illini Invitational with a three-round total 209, good enough to place him in a tie for tenth. Defending champion Andrew Yun slipped a little in the final round but still finished in a tie for 14th, partially thanks to a first round 66 that had him thinking about repeating on the Greg Norman course.
But the second round saw several of the Cardinal fall off the pace a bit. Rodgers couldn’t match his first-round 69, shooting an even-par 72, and Yun matched him with a 72. Senior David Chung had six bogeys on his way to a 76, and only a spectacular round from sophomore Cameron Wilson–who shot a 67 with six birdies and no bogeys during an eleven-hole stretch–kept the Cardinal from dropping beyond fourth place.
All that was forgotten on the final day, however, as Stanford made a serious charge up the leaderboard. Chung was firing on all cylinders, playing the first 16 holes in five-under par, while Rodgers, Wilson and junior Steven Kearney were all in red figures at the turn.
With its lead all but evaporated, however, Oregon showed why it will likely be the team to pose the biggest challenge to Stanford in the Pac-12. Under pressure, the Ducks responded, playing the back nine in six under par as a team to salt away a two-shot victory over the Huskies, eight shots clear of the Cardinal.
“I thought we played pretty well,” coach Conrad Ray told GoStanford.com. “Oregon has a really good team this year as does Washington and it just wasn’t our week this week. We had some bright spots–it was nice to see David Chung put up a good round today, and Patrick Rodgers had another top-10.”
That left out Yun, who had eight birdies in the first round, as well as freshman Marcel Puyat, who competed as an individual and finished in a tie for 17th after shooting a five-under 211. Puyat struggled to avoid big mistakes all tournament, making three double bogeys, but was a birdie machine–making fourteen over the three rounds.
It was tough to top Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan, who pretty much single-handedly led the Huskies’ final-day charge, particularly on the back nine, when he made three birdies and an eagle on the way to a 65 and the individual title at 15-under par.
But it’s hard to be truly disappointed with a top-three finish, and Stanford will be able to fall back on great depth when Pac-12 play arrives in the spring. The Cardinal continues the fall schedule when it takes to the course in two weeks at The Isleworth Collegiate Invitational, played in Windermere, Fla.