As evidenced by last week’s Masters, putting is not a simple point-and-shoot exercise, especially on Alister MacKenzie courses. MacKenzie’s greens — like those at Augusta National and those on which Stanford men’s golf team played at Pasatiempo on Saturday and Sunday — require an intimate knowledge of slope, speed and hole location, and even then the ball may inexplicably stop short or barely miss the lip of the cup.
Though frustration on the putting surface was unavoidable, Conrad Ray’s squad still managed perhaps its best performance of the season in its regular season finale.
Led by tournament winner Cameron Wilson and runner-up Patrick Rodgers, the Cardinal won the Western Intercollegiate by sixteen strokes for its third team victory in five spring events. Stanford was near the top of the team leaderboard throughout the weekend, never falling lower than a tie for second. That type of consistency of play over multiple rounds and days is sure to benefit the Card at their upcoming conference tournament.
Saturday morning’s first round, which began at 8:30 a.m., offered solid starts from Stanford’s two veteran frontrunners — Rodgers, a junior, and Wilson, a senior — who logged 5-under 65 and 3-under 67 scores respectively. Sophomore David Boote carded four birdies and four bogeys to come in at even-par 70, with freshmen Maverick McNealy (+1) and Viraat Badhwar (+4) rounding out the opening frame. At that point, the team sat in a tie for second with Washington, behind archrival and 2013 NCAA runner-up California by two shots.
There was no rest for the weary, however, and the Cardinal hit the Pasatiempo course again in the afternoon with the day’s second round starting at 1:30 p.m. This time, the low man was Wilson, who replicated his 3-under performance from the morning with the help of an eagle on the par-5, 502-yard ninth hole. McNealy, who has come on strong for Stanford during its past two contests, also snuck into the red courtesy of a 1-under 69 that included birdies on the par-4 14th and 17th holes. Rodgers shot 1-under after an unremarkable but nonetheless impressive round in which he carded 15 pars. Freshman Jim Liu recorded a 3-over 73, rebounding nicely from an awful morning that saw him post a triple-bogey on the par-4 second and a quadruple-bogey on seven.
When the dust settled following the whirlwind first day, the Card enjoyed a six-stroke advantage over the Huskies and were eight shots clear of Cal, with both teams failing to keep pace with Stanford during the second 18. Rodgers and Wilson, who were tied for first at 6-under in the individual race, buttressed the team’s position atop the standings.
On Sunday, the squad continued its very encouraging trend of saving its best round for last, firing the lowest cumulative round of the tournament with a 6-under 344. The only team to shoot under par for the third round, Stanford’s strong finish was spearheaded by its young guns Liu and McNealy, both of whom notched 3-under 67s.
The real drama, though, came from the Rodgers-Wilson group, which also included 36-hole co-leader Trevor Simsby of Washington. All three were 1-under as they made the turn for home, but Simsby’s double-bogey on the par-4 11th doomed his chances. After the 15th hole, Rodgers was two up on his teammate and on the verge of his fourth consecutive collegiate event victory. But he bogeyed three of his last four, and Wilson capitalized by birdieing 17 and 18 to earn the first outright collegiate win of his career.
“Patrick and Cameron both played well,” head coach Conrad Ray ‘97 said of his players’ final round. “It was one of those days where nothing came easy, so it was back-and-forth and they were pretty much tied all day. And then it came down to 17 where Cameron chipped in for birdie as well as birdieing 18, and Patrick was unable to get up-and-down on 18 and made a bogey. It was well-fought on all sides, and I know it was a bit tough for them as they were cheering for each other but also competing against each other for the individual title.”
“This was a big win for me,” Wilson remarked. “I’ve been in contention a lot this year and haven’t played poorly but haven’t played well at the end of the final rounds. To do that this week felt great.”
Ray also brought along sophomore Dominick Francks and junior Patrick Grimes to compete as individuals, and may have found something in the former. Francks, playing in only his fourth tournament all season, would have factored into the Card’s scoring with rounds of 70-71-74. Considering that the Pac-12 Championship employs a play six-count-five model, fans should not be surprised if Ray inserts the seldom-used second-year man into the lineup.
The Cardinal will be off for another ten days before heading south to Marana, Ariz., for the Pac-12 Men’s Golf Championships.
Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 ‘at’ stanford.edu.