By Evan Burke
Earlier this week, Stanford men’s and women’s golf returned to action for their final tournaments of the fall season.
At the Gifford Collegiate, the men’s team posted their best result of the season, placing second out of 15 competitors despite windy conditions. Junior Maverick McNealy led the way for Stanford once again, clinching the ninth win of his career by tying for first place. It was McNealy’s third medaling finish in his last four events, and his nine career victories leave him only two behind the Cardinal’s all-time leaders in wins, Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers.
With McNealy’s exemplary play setting the tone, his teammates were able to step up their own games and propel the team to a runner-up finish. Senior David Boote finished tied for fifth place overall at one stroke under par for the tournament. Sophomore Jeff Swegle matched his career-best finish, tying for 12th place at three over par. Swegle was in second place after opening with two under-par rounds, but fell back on the last day after shooting a seven-over 78.
The conditions in Carlsbad, Calif. were tough; every player faced significant challenges due to the elements, but Stanford should feel confident in the way its team was able to play despite the weather-induced adversity. The fact that Stanford achieved its best result of the fall in such a windy environment suggests that the team as a whole is improving.
“If you look at all three days, we had really solid team contributions,” head coach Conrad Ray said. “Jeff really had two great rounds and has a lot to be excited about. Everyone kicked in this week, which is the key for us as we move forward, looking for the success we want.”
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Ga., all four semifinalists from last year’s NCAA Women’s Championships were in action on Monday at the East Lake Invitational. Third-ranked Stanford took on No. 2 Duke, while last season’s runner-up Baylor battled Southern California.
Stanford’s semifinal against the Blue Devils was delayed by rain and was finished on Tuesday morning. The Cardinal were defeated 4-1 but were able to re-group, beating Baylor 4-0-1 in the consolation match to capture third place.
After faltering against Duke, the Cardinal got themselves together quickly against the Bears, as junior Quirine Eijkenboom and senior Lauren Kim were able to cruise to several-shot victories. Sophomore Shannon Aubert and junior Casey Danielson pulled away on the back nine and clinched wins themselves, while senior Mariah Stackhouse secured a halve in a hard-fought match.
While the women were unable to get a win in Atlanta, they did record wins in two of their four matches during the fall, including the Stanford Intercollegiate, during which they finished seven strokes ahead of USC, the No. 1 ranked team in the country and the victors of the East Lake Invitational. The Cardinal have shown that they can defeat some of the top teams in the country; expect them to be in the chase for the national championship again come spring.
The men’s team will return to action in the Amer Ari Invitational (Feb. 4-6) in Waikoloa, Hawaii, while the women will make their spring debut at home when they host the Peg Barnard Invitational on Feb. 13-14.
Contact Evan Burke eburke3 ‘at’ stanford.edu.