The No. 8 Stanford men’s golf team capped its regular season with a third-place finish in the Western Intercollegiate at the Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif.
“We love going over there [to Pasatiempo],” said head coach Conrad Ray. “We’ve played there a number of years, and Stanford has a great tradition at the Western Intercollegiate. This year we, we didn’t win the trophy, but we competed well, and there’s a lot of positives to draw from the week.”
The Western, which had golfers play 36 holes on Saturday and 18 on Sunday, started off with relatively calm course conditions on Saturday morning. Senior Andrew Yun and junior Cameron Wilson both posted one-under-par 69s in the morning round, leaving the Cardinal tied for fourth.
Conditions quickly deteriorated, however, as high winds were not kind to any team in Saturday afternoon’s frame. Even so, Stanford fared relatively well, shooting a combined 16-over par as a team in the second round to move into third behind No. 5 UCLA and No. 1 Cal.
“The conditions were very tough,” Ray said. “We got off to a nice start in round one, and then, in round two, the wind blew and it was very chilly over there yesterday [Saturday]. We struggled a little bit in the afternoon, but all the scores were high.”
“The wind was a big factor the second round, as it was extremely tough to judge distances,” added Yun on the blustery conditions. “You have to do everything you can possible before the shot to map out your strategy. You really can’t control the outcome, but you can control your preparation, and that aspect is emphasized when conditions get tough.”
Defending tournament champion sophomore Patrick Rodgers, relatively quiet on the first day of the tournament, came storming back in Sunday’s final round. The sophomore, sitting at tied for 23rd in the individual standings after Saturday, birdied all 3 par 5s on Sunday to finish in a tie for ninth. His 70-74-67 was nowhere near his winning performance of 67-71-68 a year ago.
“Being the defending champion only gave me some confidence going in knowing that I have played well on the golf course in the past,” Rodgers said. “Still, I needed to execute in order to repeat. I struck the ball nicely this weekend and gave myself enough opportunities to win. I just made too many silly mistakes and needed a sharper short game to contend.”
Rodgers’ Sunday round was the lone bright spot for Stanford, which was leapfrogged by No. 6 Washington for third place. But due to what Ray called a “surprising and unfortunate” disqualification of Washington golfer Chris Williams, the Huskies slipped to fourth in the team standings with the conclusion of the tournament.
Yun struggled in the third round, shooting a 76 with five bogeys and a double bogey. He was not the only Cardinal golfer who had the Sunday blues: freshman David Boote, senior Steve Kearney, sophomore Patrick Grimes and Yun combined to shoot 24-over par on Sunday.
“I felt really good about my overall play this weekend,” Yun said. “My driving has been a weakness all year, but I drove it beautifully here this past weekend. Ironically, I struggled a lot on the greens, which is usually my strong suit. But I am excited to see my driving getting better and work hard to get the putting back on track.”
Wilson, as steady as they come, shook off a four-over second round by carding an even-par 70 in the final round. In the hunt for a fourth straight top-10 individual finish until late in the tournament, he nullified two early birdies with two bogeys on the back nine.
“I played poorly this week,” Wilson said. “I gave myself plenty of birdie chances but didn’t capitalize nearly enough. I also made three doubles and had five or six three putts. It will always be hard to contend while giving away that many shots.”
Cal, GolfWeek’s top-ranked collegiate team, overtook UCLA on Sunday with a 10-under 340 round to finish 13 strokes in front of the Bruins, 30 clear of Stanford and 34 ahead of Washington. All three teams, plus No. 10 USC and No. 41 Oregon, should make for an extremely competitive Pac-12 Tournament, which starts April 29 in Los Angeles.
“We’re excited to hopefully continue the good play and good vibes into the Pac-12 Tournament,” Ray said. “We’re excited to try to go down there and win. The last time we won [the conference tournament] was 1994, and we have some work to do. It’ll be a tough task, but I think we’re up for it and I know the guys will be excited to go play well.”
Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 “at” stanford.edu.