Riding a record effort from junior Cameron Wilson, the men’s golf team finished second at the Gifford Collegiate at CordeValle to close out the fall schedule for Stanford.
Buoyed by Wilson’s course-record 61 in the opening round, the No. 20 Card finished just eight strokes behind No. 8 UCLA and had three golfers in the top-10 individually, led by Wilson’s second-place finish.
Sophomore Patrick Rodgers and freshman David Boote finished in a tie for ninth place at 1-up (214) while freshman Dominick Francks recorded the best result of his young collegiate career with a tie for 20th, four strokes behind Boote and Rodgers. Senior Steve Kearney and junior Shane LeBow completed the team scoring in a tie for 41st.
But it was Wilson who had the galleries buzzing after opening with a round of -10 on the CordeValle Resort course on Monday. The score was one stroke better than the previous low round on the Robert Trent Jones designed course, most recently posted by PGA players John Mallinger and Nick O’Hern at the 2012 Frys.com Open in October. It was also the lowest score posted anywhere in the history of Stanford’s golf program, tying Tiger Woods’s round at the 1996 Pac-12 Championships.
“Cameron’s round today was one of the best in Stanford’s golf program history,” head coach Conrad Ray said. “Cameron seemed very comfortable from the first tee shot today. This is his third year competing in the Gifford Intercollegiate Golf Championship, and he likes the CordeValle course.”
Like it he does, as he fired a -6-under-par 30 on the front nine–the only blemish on the card being a bogey on the par-4 fourth hole–and followed it up with a -4-under-par 31 on the back nine, including a birdie at 18.
Stanford was just two strokes back of the Bruins after the opening round, and Wilson was seven strokes clear of the field in first place.
But it is hard to maintain such impressive play for an entire event, and two double bogeys proved costly for Wilson on the second and third day, giving him a career-best finish of second with an incredible 15 birdies over 54 holes.
While the 61 was unexpected, there have definitely been signs that Wilson’s game has been shaping up to go very low. After qualifying for the U.S. Open at the Olympic Club over the summer, Wilson missed a pair of early-season tournaments for the Cardinal recovering from a back injury, but posted a 69 in his return at the U.S. Intercollegiate.
With a very formidable scoring tandem in Wilson and Rodgers (a PING All-American last season and currently the No. 1 golfer in Golfweek’s collegiate rankings), as well as two youngsters in Boote and Francks who have shown real signs of potential, Stanford should prove a tough opponent to beat when the regular season kicks off in February.
If Kearney, LeBow or perhaps sophomore Patrick Grimes, who competed as an individual at CordeValle and finished in a tie for 16th after shooting a second round 66, can provide a boost to the back end of the lineup, the Cardinal will be competing with defending champion Cal and the rest of the top 10 for a spot in the NCAA Championships come May.