The No. 9 Stanford men’s golf team will finish off its regular season tournament play this weekend at the Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, looking to extend its hot streak into the postseason.
The Western Intercollegiate will be held over two days rather than the regular three. This will force the golfers to play 36 holes on Saturday and a standard 18 on Sunday.
This is the third time the Cardinal will play an abbreviated tournament this season; in two previous outings, the team finished eighth and fourth. Additionally, the Western is a six-man tournament, counting five scores (instead of four) every day.
“We’re excited about the Western,” said head coach Conrad Ray. “It’s a great event, it’s close to home and a really good test of golf. Pasatiempo is one of the classic designs on the West Coast with some undulating greens and tight fairways. It’s usually in wonderful condition, and we’re looking forward to getting over there this weekend.”
Stanford’s Patrick Rodgers is the defending champion in this event and is seeking to propel the Cardinal to its second straight team win. The sophomore, sitting at No. 6 in GolfWeek’s NCAA individual rankings, is also fresh off a win at the SH Collegiate Masters in Las Vegas and a runner-up finish at his home tournament. For those performances, he was named the Southern Golf Association’s National Amateur of the Month for March.
“It is a great honor,” Rodgers said of the award. “Any time you are recognized for performing well it is a good thing. I have worked hard this spring and have played well this month so it is a nice award with so many great players around the country.”
While the spectacular sophomore has grabbed most of the team’s spotlight as of late, junior Cameron Wilson has been playing very consistent golf. Currently at No. 15 in the GolfWeek individual rankings, Wilson knows the challenge the Western Intercollegiate poses.
“Pasatiempo is a very demanding course that places a premium on every aspect of the game,” Wilson said. “More important than any one facet of the game will be staying patient and focused for the whole event. The first day is 36 holes so having enough energy and patience during the second round will be important.”
For senior Andrew Yun, the entire 2012-13 season has had an air of finality, but that has never been truer than over the past few weeks. Coming off his final home tournament, Yun will start a regular season event for the last time in his collegiate career on Saturday. Also a GolfWeek top-50 player, Yun gives Stanford a powerful 1-2-3 punch that should allow the team to do real damage in the ultra-competitive Pac-12 Tournament, Regionals and NCAAs.
“The keys for success for myself and the team as a whole will be dependent on a good short game and course management,” Yun said. “We really learned a lot from our victory at Stanford last week. Playing our home track, we had great course management and really showed strength in our short game.
“Talking to everybody, nobody in particular hit the ball well,” he added, “but everybody managed to shoot a decent score based on these two aspects. So if we continue to work hard on our short game and have a good understanding of the course, then we have a recipe for success.”
In addition to earning All-American status and making the All-Pac-12 first-team, Yun may need to clear space in his trophy case for the Byron Nelson Award. Last week he was named a finalist for the prestigious honor, which recognizes a graduating senior for on-course and academic performance as well as “character and integrity.”
“Andrew Yun continues to do well as our senior leader,” Ray commented. “His nomination as a Byron Nelson award finalist is exciting, and he’s very deserving of that award. He handles himself every day very much in the same mold as Byron Nelson did when he with us.”
As this weekend’s tournament is the last one in regular season play, the Cardinal golfers know what’s truly at stake at Pasatiempo: momentum. Especially considering the team’s stellar performances at its last two events, a good showing would solidify Stanford’s top-10 national ranking and put other conference teams on notice.
“The team is excited because Western is a competitive tournament,” Ray said. “We’ll get a chance to compete against No. 1 Cal, along with [No. 5] UCLA and [No. 10] USC, so we’ll have to be on our game.”
“Winning is a habit,” Wilson added, “and it’s hard to win at the end of the year having not been in that position prior to the postseason.”
Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 ‘at’ stanford.edu.