For the second straight season, a promising Stanford men’s golf team saw its season come to an early end after it failed to make the first cut at the NCAA championships.
The Cardinal finished in 28th place in the 30-team tournament, accruing a team score of +44 over the course of three days after hitting above par on 78 different holes. Though no team managed to make par on the difficult Eugene Country Club course, this finish still landed them 18 strokes back of the mark they needed to qualify for the final day of the stroke championship.
For a team that came into the tournament ranked No. 1 in the country, the results were a bit of a letdown.
“It’s a team game, and we weren’t firing on all cylinders,” head coach Conrad Ray remarked. “We’ll have to go back and see why that was, and hopefully, it will make us better in the future. It’s disappointing, considering that our guys are motivated to win and motivated to have high expectations.”
The tournament marks the end a strong season for the Cardinal, which saw them capture the Pac-12 title and come in first in the NCAA regional tournament in Tucson. Stanford had been on a three-match winning streak going into the championship but seemed to struggle from the beginning in Eugene.
Four of the five Cardinal players finished at +12 or above on the weekend, posting scores that landed them outside the top 100 individual finishers. Junior Maverick McNealy seemed particularly out of rhythm, as the country’s top collegiate golfer counted just one of his rounds toward the team’s score after sandwiching a decent 1-over 71 with two rounds of +6.
McNealy finished one stroke behind sophomore Franklin Huang (+12) and one stroke ahead of freshman Brandon Wu (+14). Sophomore Jeffery Swegle rounded out Stanford’s lineup, ending near the bottom 10 with a score of +19.
Senior David Boote was the closest to a highlight for the team, shooting a 216 that put him in a tie for 50th place. Boote rode a first round of 69 — the only below-par performance for the Cardinal all weekend — to end his Stanford career with a +6.
While the results were not what the team was hoping for, it can take some solace in that most of its lineup will return next season. Boote is the only departing member of the squad who consistently counted his score toward the team’s, and Ray hopes the rest of his players will use this experience to make them better next season.
“I’m proud of our team,” Ray said. “We put in a lot of hard work and preparation throughout the season. Sometimes it’s the way the game goes. Sometimes you do all you can do and it doesn’t go your way. It’s not losing, it’s learning.”
Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu.