When freshman Mariah Stackhouse teed off Sunday morning at the Stanford Golf Course, her gallery was at most 10 people deep, including her mother. By the time she tapped in for par on the 18th green, over 150 spectators gave a loud roar of approval for one of the greatest individual golf efforts ever seen at Stanford–Stackhouse set a course record with a round of 61 (-10 under par), including an astonishing 26 on the front nine, en route to winning the Peg Barnard Invitational.
“After I had the eagle on No. 7, honestly it was like I was a spectator watching myself. I was just kind of like ‘what is going on?’
“I knew one day I was going to have an epic front nine, [I wondered when that happened] would I be nervous? But it was just so much fun…On No.9 and No. 7, I was like ‘man you’ve been making putts all day, it would be funny if this went in.’ And then it went in again and I was like, ‘well, cool!’”
Stackhouse had command of every club in the bag, beginning on the par-5 first hole, which she eagled. A birdie on No. 2 got her to three-under par, and she didn’t cool off at all with birdies on Nos. 3 and 4.
But it was the flatstick that literally could not have been hotter. Sitting at five under through six holes, the highly-touted Stackhouse (a high school All-American and participant at the 2011 Ping Junior Solheim Cup) drained a 40-footer for eagle on the par-5 seventh, at which point the crowd following her group really began to swell.
“[It was] absolutely amazing,” Stackhouse’ mother Sharon said. “You come out just to support your daughter and the team and you don’t know how it’s going to turn out. To witness a round like that, you can never see that coming. It was just amazing–I was in awe. [Around the eight or ninth hole] it was like something really special is going on today.”
After sticking her approach on the eighth hole and making birdie, Stackhouse was eight-under heading to the par-four ninth. A nice drive put her in good position but her second shot was too deep and left her with a tricky downhill putt about 30 feet above the hole.
It hit nothing but the bottom of the cup.
That left her with a front-nine score of 26, which is a stroke lower than the best 9-hole score ever recorded on the PGA Tour and three strokes better than anything done on the LPGA Tour. The Riverdale, Ga. native took just nine putts.
“It’s actually ironic, because the front nine is my least favorite nine,” Stackhouse said. “My goal on this golf course is always to get through hole 10, try to be at one or two under, and then really try to have a good round the rest of the way.”
Instead, she was 10 under par after a birdie on No. 12 and the magical round of 59 was certainly within reach with the course playing firm and fast under sunny skies and just the hint of a breeze.
But what was perhaps more impressive than shooting a 59 was Stackhouse’s composure after she showed the first sign of nerves on the 13th and 14th holes, including a 2-foot putt that she stood over for a little longer than usual before missing.
She bounced back almost immediately, however, munching nonchalantly on a sandwich as she walked up the 15th fairway and settling back into her grove with back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17.
“The one thing that really separates Mariah, at least right now, is her demeanor,” said Stanford head coach Anne Walker. “She is really able to focus on whatever shot she is hitting at that moment. When you shoot 10 under, which few people ever have, you really have to be able to stay in the present. For her to go bogey-bogey and then jump back with birdie-birdie tells me she was absolutely in the moment on every shot.”
The par on No. 18 gave her a round of 61, two strokes better than the score her teammate, sophomore Mariko Tumangan, posted last year in establishing the Stanford Golf Course record.
“I think this [record] is going to vibrate through the country,” Walker said of Stackhouse’s effort, which Walker noted was likely an NCAA Div. I record as well as tying Tiger Woods’ 61 at the 1996 Pac-10 Championship for the lowest round by any Stanford golfer in competition.
It drew the attention of recent Stanford men’s star and current Web.com member Joseph Bramlett, ’10, who was following the event on his phone while hitting shots on the range and made his way over to follow Stackhouse’s effort live. His father went even more out of his way, stopping midway though a round of his own in San Jose to drive up and walk with the group for the final couple of holes.
“It was a buzz,” Walker said. “Mariah was five under and word started spreading. All of a sudden, everyone just started showing up. It was a great time.”
But lost in the shuffle of Stackhouse’s individual play was a nice start to the spring season by the women’s team as a whole. In a field that included No. 2 Washington and No. 10 UC-Davis, the No. 18 Cardinal ran away from everybody to finish the two-day event at 569 (+1), 14 shots clear of second-place California and 20 clear of UC-Davis.
Freshman Lauren Kim finished tied for fifth at 142 (70-72) and notched five birdies of her own on Sunday. Tumangan herself finished 16th at 148 (75-73) and senior Sally Watson tied for 17th at 149 (75-74).
Junior Danielle Frasier came back four strokes in the final round to record a 152 (78-74) and senior Kristina Wong, who played as an individual, tied for 54th at 159 (81-78).
The day belonged to Stackhouse, however.
“Anytime you win, it’s a special time,” Walker said. “To watch Mariah win her home tournament as a freshman, this will be something she will always remember.”