By Jenny Peter
The No. 14 Stanford women’s golf team swung into the spring season of its schedule and got first place at its own 36-hole Peg Barnyard Invitational on Saturday and Sunday. The Cardinal played at the Stanford Golf Course and won by just one stroke over No. 10 Cal, which was the highest-ranked team in the tournament. Other teams competing were Fresno State, Hawaii, Long Beach State, Oregon, San Jose State, Santa Clara, Texas, UC-Davis and Washington.
Stanford shot an opening round of 304, tying for second place with Washington at 20 shots above par. The team was trailing Cal (296) by eight strokes going into the second day of the tournament, but the players immediately redeemed themselves on Sunday. The Cardinal made up its eight-stroke deficit and pulled ahead of both Washington and Cal with a 292, a 12-stroke improvement from the first day.
“It was an amazing feeling knowing that we bested Cal, especially because this year they have such a fantastic team,” said sophomore Sydney Burlison. “They beat us in Washington in the fall, but it just made our victory against them this weekend that much sweeter.”
While Stanford has an intense rivalry with the Golden Bears, the Card golfers have a good relationship with their fellow Bay Area golf team.
“It’s fun to see that both of us are continuing to improve our programs and gaining notoriety on the national scene,” Burlison said.
The competition also showed how small a margin of error there is in collegiate golf.
“It’s funny, after 36 or 54 holes of golf and with so many of us out there playing, in the end it always does seem to come down to one or two strokes,” Burlison said. “It’s times like these that really motivate us to stay committed to every shot out there, and to never give up, because at the end of the day one swing could make all the difference.”
Sophomore Lila Barton agreed, adding, “Even over several rounds of golf, you can never take any shot for granted.”
After struggling with the first round and shooting an 81 as an individual, Barton came back strong in the second round and shot a 71 to end up 10th in the tournament. She tied with her freshman teammate Kristina Wong (78-74-152).
Improvements from the fall have also paid off in the new spring season for freshman Sally Watson. Watson shot a 73 the first round and a 71 the second round to tie for the individual title with Cal’s Joanne Lee (74-70-144).
“She has done a great job this year and is already a team leader, even as a freshman,” Barton said of her teammate Watson. “I have a lot of respect for her game and for her as an individual.”
Junior Rebecca Durham also fared well, shooting a 77 the first day and a 70 in the final round to place third, three strokes behind Watson and Lee.
Though the Card did not host the tournament last year, this was Stanford’s third consecutive win at the Invitational after claiming first place in 2007 and 2008. It was also the team’s first victory of the year.
Next week, Stanford will continue its upward climb as it heads to the Arizona Wildcat Invitational in Tucson, Ariz.
The Cardinal will tee off and play a long 36 holes on Monday that will continue onto Tuesday for a final round of 18 holes.
At the 54-hole event the team will prepare to go up against some serious competition in the Pac-10, always one of the strongest conferences in women’s golf. With its tough field, the tournament will be a good a stepping-stone toward the team’s end goal of making it to Wilmington, N.C. for the NCAA Championships in June.
“It’s going to be a strong field, but we’re really coming together as a team and playing great,” Barton said. “We have the opportunity to go out and show people what we’re really made of.”
The team also hopes to achieve its goal of being a unitary force on the course next week.
“We’ve really come together as a team this year. Not just for this tournament, but in general,” Barton said. “We’ve pushed each other in workouts and during practice and been really motivated, as a team, toward winning.”