Senior Steve Kearney’s career-best fourth-place finish at eight under par led Stanford men’s golf to seventh place in the Amer Ari Invitational at the Waikoloa Kings’ Course on the Big Island of Hawai’i.
After finishing the first and second rounds in eight and ninth place respectively, Stanford made a charge toward the top of the leaderboard. The Cardinal peaked in a tie for fourth place before falling victim to tough headwinds and dropping back to seventh.
In the end though, it was the start, and not the finish, that really hurt Stanford. On Wednesday, junior Cameron Wilson (+2), freshman David Boote (+1) and sophomore Patrick Rodgers (+5) all had their worst rounds of the tournament, leaving the Cardinal in a tie for eighth place at one under par after the opening round.
Kearney was one of two Stanford golfers — senior Andrew Yun (-1) being the other — to open the tournament on a high-note, shooting a three under par 69 in Wednesday’s first round. After an even-par 72 on Thursday, Kearney roared back for an impressive five under par 67.
“My driving accuracy was definitely one of my strong points,” Kearney told Go Stanford (www.GoStanford.com). “I only missed a few fairways these last three days and that really set me up to play well.”
Kearney came in seven shots ahead of Stanford’s next-best finisher, Andrew Yun, who followed up his opening-round 71 with consecutive even-par rounds to earn a tie for 26th place at one under par. Wilson and Boote tied for 34th place one shot behind Yun at even par, while Rodgers battled back from a disastrous opening-round 77 to get back to two over par and a tie for 49th.
In a testament to the fickleness of golf, Rodgers actually thought he hit the ball better during his first-round 77 than his second-round 70. Rodgers credited improvement in managing his round to shave seven shots off of his score.
Junior Shane Lebow competed as an individual — his score could not count for the Stanford team. Lebow finished in a tie for 70th place at six over par.
Pac-12 schools No. 6 UCLA and No. 4 Washington tied for first atop the 20-team tournament field at 22 under par. Senior All-American Dominic Bozzelli of Auburn won the individual title, following up an opening-round 70 with a 68 and a 67 to win by two strokes at 11 under par.
The invitational featured seven of Golfweek’s top-14 teams, with the six teams that finished ahead of the Cardinal this week all ranked ahead of Stanford.
“We’re happy with the way the guys battled today,” The Knowles Family Director of Golf Conrad Ray told Go Stanford (www.GoStanford.com). “We wish we were a few slots up in the leaderboard but that’s golf and it is awful close.”
Stanford heads to La Quinta, Calif. next Monday for The Prestige at PGA West. The Cardinal will get another shot at the Amer Ari Invitational co-champions Washington and UCLA, who are among the favorites in the competitive 15-team field.
Contact Sam Fisher at email@example.com.