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W. Golf: Cardinal finishes third in Arizona tournament

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The No. 22 Stanford women’s golf team, after enduring brutal rain, wind and hail weather conditions, finished third at the Wildcat Invitational at the Arizona National Golf Club in Tuscon, Ariz.

The Cardinal shot a 293 (nine-over-par) in the first round Monday and was in second place behind top-ranked Arizona State (290). Arizona was close behind Stanford with a 294.

On Tuesday, Stanford carded a second-round score of 302 (18-over) to finish the collegiate tournament with a 595 (27-over). The Sun Devils gained a definitive lead with a 576, finishing 19 strokes ahead of the Cardinal. Second-place Arizona finished with a 588.

“We are disappointed that we didn’t finish higher, but we did beat numerous top-10 ranked teams,” said freshman Sally Watson. “It is encouraging to know that we could have played better yet we still finished third.”

Based on strong coaching connections and a desire to produce a competitive field at their event, the Sun Devils hosted other top-10 teams that Stanford beat out, including No. 3 Auburn, No. 5 USC, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 8 Duke and No. 9 Pepperdine. The team also defeated its rival Cal by one stroke.

Unfortunate bad weather conditions caused the 54-hole event to be reduced to a 36-hole tournament, giving Stanford less of a chance to catch up to Arizona State after the first round. However, the team wasn’t fazed by the circumstantial changes or the challenging weather.

“It makes you focus on one shot at a time and try not to dwell on bad breaks – they just happen in those kinds of conditions,” said junior Rebecca Durham. “Everyone fought hard and didn’t give up. The weather was brutal and the field was stack, so to finish at the top of the field really proves we are a top team.”

Durham helped lead Stanford with her consistent rounds, shooting a 74 on the first day and a 75 on the second day to tie for 12th place.

Watson finished in a tie for 10th place after shooting an even-par round of 71 the first day and a 75 on the second day. This was her third top-10 finish of the season, including winning the individual title at Stanford’s Barnyard Invitational last week. Watson was within 10 shots of Oklahoma State sophomore Caroline Hedwall (66), who clinched the individual title with a five-under-par finish.

Watson’s freshman teammate Kristina Wong also faired well at the tournament, carding a 72-78 to tie for 22nd place.

“We let some opportunities slip away from us coming down the home stretch of the second round,” Durham said. “So there are some things we need to improve, but we’re heading in the right direction and beginning to reach our full potential.”

The Cardinal will head next to Moorpark Country Club in Malibu on Monday for the Bruin-Wave Invitational. The tournament will feature three rounds of golf and will conclude on Wednesday.