The No. 10 Stanford men’s golf team will take to their home course Thursday for the first and only time this season, looking to continue their strong play.
“Our top guys have really been performing well and we’re hoping to ride the momentum from a good finish in Las Vegas,” said men’s golf head coach Conrad Ray. “We’re excited about the field that we’ve put together. The course is shaping up to be in wonderful condition; it’ll be a really good test of golf and forecast looks promising.”
Indeed, temperatures are projected to be in upper 60s to low 70s with slight chances of rain over the three-day tournament.
However, the home tourney may be catching the Cardinal in somewhat of a lull. Spring break is usually a time for students to relax, party or catch-up on sleep; these players will have to fight off the finals week fatigue to perform well on their home turf.
Ray, however, doesn’t seem to be worried about a potential letdown, saying: “the guys have made it through finals week in one piece.”
“Since finals are done and over with, we can put our full attention into this tournament,” senior Andrew Yun said. “I think we will be fresh and ready, and that will be a huge positive impact on our team. I speak for the whole team when I say that we are hungry to get that first win and play to our full potential.”
Players were allowed to go home for the weekend, returning early in the week to qualify for lineup order on Tuesday afternoon. The team completed its final practice round on Wednesday and will play all eleven of its golfers: Patrick Rodgers, Cameron Wilson, Andrew Yun, Patrick Grimes and David Boote on the Cardinal Team; Steve Kearney, Shane Lebow, Andre De Decker, Dominick Francks and Wilson Bowen on the White Team. Keegan English will compete as an individual.
“Rodgers, Wilson, Yun and Boote have all been leaders for us at some point this year and playing at home, I hope their prowess will shine through,” Ray remarked.
Yun, a two-time All-American and Pac-12 First Team selection, will seek his second straight top-10 finish at the U.S. Intercollegiate in the final home tournament of his decorated collegiate career.
“I really can’t believe that four years has gone by this fast,” the Chandler, Ariz. native commented. “Being the last home tournament, I would really like to do well. But I will not put any extra pressure on myself because that will be detrimental, especially in golf. Trying harder usually leads to negative results. The trying harder will come from properly preparing myself for the challenges ahead in the tournament.”
Wilson is seeking his third straight top-10 individual finish and will certainly want to improve on his 19th place performance at this tournament last year.
“I feel good about my game but like always I need to be patient,” Wilson said. “Having high expectations is sometimes counter-productive leading up to an event.”
As for Rodgers, the sophomore is looking for his second consecutive individual title and fourth of the season as he begins the stretch run towards the Pac-12 Championships, West Regionals and NCAAs.
Overall, Ray believes his golfers are up to the challenge of the home course.
“I think Stanford is the type of course where there’s a strong premium on leaving your ball around the greens in the right place and looking for an uphill chip or an uphill putt to make birdie, and I think our guys understand that,” he said.
The field will feature a total of 17 teams, seven of which are among the top-50 schools in the nation: No. 7 USC, No. 8 TCU, No. 10 Stanford, No. 22 St. Mary’s, No. 31 Northwestern, defending US Intercollegiate champ No. 47 Oregon and No. 48 San Diego State. Stanford will start on the 10th hole Thursday, looking to capture a victory at its home tournament for the first time since 2007 when Rob Grube lead the Card to the title.
“We’ve had a couple of real good rounds of prep before the tournament and we hope that we can defend our home turf in strong fashion,” Ray said.