By Jenny Peter
The Stanford women’s golf team finished strong in the last round of the PING ASU Invitational last weekend to secure 10th place at the Karsten Course in Tempe, Ariz. The Cardinal’s top-10 finish is respectable because Stanford had to contend with nine of the top 12 teams in the nation. UCLA finished first at the 54-hole tournament with an 856 (eight under par), overcoming host Arizona State (857, -7) by one shot. USC (858, -6), New Mexico (863,-1) and Purdue (864) placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Stanford was 20 strokes behind the leaders with a 12-over 876.
Stanford had a rough first round that motivated the team to fight back even harder during the second and third rounds. After shooting a nine-over-par 297 in the first round, the Cardinal got progressively better, carding a 291 the second day and a 288 the last day of the tournament. The 10-stroke improvement from day one to day three gives the Cardinal golfers confidence in their ability to redeem themselves, but the team would rather not need a comeback in the first place.
“We proved to ourselves that we can shoot solid team scores… now we just need to do it for three straight days,” said junior Rebecca Durham.
“The course is extremely scorable in that it’s relatively short,” said head coach Caroline O’Connor. “However, the wind can really make it tough. Additionally, the desert had a very wet winter so growing conditions have been ideal. Consequently, the rough adjacent to the fairways and around the greens is long and thick. Driving accuracy [was] important this week as well as placement on and around the greens.”
The team procured 16 birdies the second day and 14 birdies the last day.
“We made enough birdies to go deep, but we need to eliminate some of the bogeys,” Durham said.
In addition to a few birdies on her card, Durham also had the personal highlight of chipping the ball in on a par-five for eagle. She was in 55th with a 76 after the opening day of the tournament, and then moved to 37th after shooting an even-par 72 the second day. Durham finished 38th (222) with a final round 74, helping to lead Stanford with her consistency and experience with the course.
The Stanford freshmen performed well and galvanized the team with their low scoring and quick adjustment to the course. Sally Watson shot a final round 69 to finish in eighth place (212), five strokes behind Stephanie Kono of UCLA (207), who finished in first at nine under par. Kristina Wong of Stanford also fared well with a final round 71 to clinch 29th place (219).
Senior captain Angela King tied for 46th with a 224 and sophomore Sydney Burlison tied for 75th at a 233.
Stanford will go into the Pac-10 Championships next week with the goal of starting off stronger and putting itself in a better position to win.
“The difference between us and the top five teams in the nation is shrinking,” Durham said. “We’re peaking at the right time.”
The Pac-10 Championships are scheduled for April 19-21 at the Eugene Country Club.