Fourth-seeded Stanford men’s golf finished its season in the third round of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships. While in the mix, the Cardinal were unable to catch the teams ahead to make the 15-team cut and advance to the playoff round. Although the finish may have not been what they hoped for, the team showed lots of resilience in the brutal weather and early wake ups.
Stanford was dealt a tough card when the team was unable to complete the first round. None of Stanford’s five athletes were able to finish all 18 holes, and the team was tied for 17th with Arizona after the first day. After one day, senior Viraat Badhwar and sophomore Isaiah Salinda were even-par while sophomore Brandon Wu and junior Franklin Huang were one-over.
“We fought hard and we were in the mix today,” said Conrad Ray. “We got off to a decent start, but we hit it into some bad spots when the wind got tough out there.
After finishing making up the holes missed during the first round, Stanford went right back on the course for day two of the grueling tournament. While the weather improved, it still wasn’t ideal, and the wet and long rough caused a little trouble, as Stanford collectively scored a bogey or worse on 14 of the 18 holes. With the outlook starting to look bleak, the Cardinal were able to overcome the slow start, with scoring on the following nine holes a joint seven birdies and limiting their mistakes to just one bogey.
Unfortunately, the late match surge just wasn’t enough to send the Cardinal through. Despite the team’s elimination, the Cardinal golfers finished on a high note, with Salinda leading the team, tying for 44th with a birdie on the 18th hole to end his sophomore season.
Three out of the five athletes, Salinda, Wu and Huang, will be returning next year, giving the Cardinal some veteran experience as they prepare for next season. However, Stanford will have to say goodbye to two seniors, Maverick McNealy and Badhwar who have left incredible legacies to the program. The pair has helped lead Stanford to three Pac-12 tournament titles and four NCAA appearances in their four seasons. McNealy, in particular, is this year’s Ben Hogan Award recipient, has tied Stanford all-time record for most career wins, with 11, and ended his Cardinal career with four birdies.
“Maverick [McNealy] and Viraat [Badhwar] have been amazing role models and a pleasure to coach. They’re student-athletes through and through, and they’ve definitely left their marks on our program,” said Ray.
Contact Julia Massaro at jmassaro ‘at’ stanford.edu.