As per usual, freshman Mariah Stackhouse recorded a top-10 individual finish, anchoring the No. 11 Stanford women’s golf team’s third-place-tie performance at the PING/ASU Invitational in Tempe, Ariz., this weekend. In the process, the Cardinal defeated a long list of Pac-12 foes in No. 1 USC, No. 8 UCLA, No. 13 Arizona State, No. 14 Washington, No. 43 Oregon and No. 44 Cal.
“This was a terrific performance for our team and the overall program,” head coach Anne Walker said. “We are improving each week, and to finish third at ASU shows that when we play well, we can compete with the best teams in the country.”
Stackhouse, ranked No. 4 in Golfweek’s latest collegiate individual standings, roared out of the gates in Friday’s first round. She carded four birdies on the back nine–her first nine of the day after teeing off on the 10th tee–eventually finishing with a 2-under 70 on the Karsten Golf Course. That left her tied for 11th individually and put her team in ninth position.
Saturday saw Stackhouse start even better than she did Friday. She birdied her first three holes and four of her first five to move to 6-under for tournament. By day’s end the freshman was in a three-way tie for third, one stroke off the lead of eventual champion Emma Talley of Alabama and Laetitia Beck of Duke.
“Mariah is a very steady player,” Walker said. “She is not too affected by what lies ahead or by what has happened in the past. Of course, she will take confidence from this week but I think that more than that, she will be focused on how to get better this week for next [week’s Pac-12 Championships].”
Not only did Stackhouse play well on moving day, so did her teammates. Fellow freshman Lauren Kim was 4-under through nine holes and 5-under going into the 153-yard par-3 16th. That’s where things unraveled, however, and Kim ended up triple-bogeying the hole after an errant tee shot. She still finished the round at 2-under 70, one stroke better than her senior teammate Sally Watson. Watson, the lone senior in the lineup for much of the year, had an up-and-down Saturday with five birdies and four bogeys, entrenching herself in a tie for 16th place going into Sunday’s final round.
“I was much happier with how I played this weekend than I have been the rest of the season,” Watson said. “I learned a couple of good lessons last week [winning at the Sonoma State Spring Invitational] about my game and what I need to work on in order to perform at my best, and so I am really looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Overall, the team shot a combined 6-under 282 in the second round, vaulting from ninth to a tie for third in the team standings.
Sunday was a strange day for the Cardinal. Stanford’s two most consistent golfers–Stackhouse and Kim–fell off from their performances in the first two rounds, and the Cardinal instead relied upon Watson and sophomore Mariko Tumangan. Watson notched another 1-under 71 to lead Stanford in the final round, and Tumangan was not far behind with an even-par 72 of her own. The sophomore from San Jose, Calif., showed marked improvement over the course of the tournament, going from a 9-over-par performance on Friday to a four-birdie round on Sunday. She was 3-under going into her final four holes, but a bogey at 15 and a double at 16 undid what could have been an even better round.
Meanwhile, Stackhouse finished with a 1-over 73 to fall from tied for third to a tie for fifth in the individual standings. Kim’s final round 3-over 75–again marred by a triple bogey, this time at the par-4 ninth–dropped her from 12th to a tie for 26th.
“I played solid this week at ASU,” Kim said. “I had two blow-up holes–number 16 on Saturday and number nine [Sunday] –that were extremely disappointing and were out of character for me. Besides those two holes, though, I played really well and am happy with everything else in my game.”
The Pac-12 Championships start next Monday in Valencia, Calif. The tournament will feature nine top-50 and four top-10 teams. Walker believes that a sound mental approach more than anything else will propel her team to an excellent performance.
“We have to keep working on our belief in ourselves,” she said. “The quote ‘You have to see it to achieve it’–that is what we will be working on.”
Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 “at” stanford.edu.