By King Jemison
The Stanford men’s golf team saw its season come to an end this weekend at the NCAA Championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma, but not before two upperclassmen sent their seasons out on a high note with fantastic individual performances.
Junior Isaiah Salinda finished in a tie for 15th individually at even par for the tournament. Salinda was the only Cardinal player to qualify for the final day of stroke play, but his senior teammate Jeffrey Sweggle also had an exciting finish to his career.
During Sunday’s third round, Sweggle shot a three-under 69, the fifth lowest score of the day in his final round as a Cardinal golfer.
As a team, Stanford had a solid conclusion to an overall successful season. The Cardinal finished in a tie for 16th at 20 over-par. They narrowly missed the cut line for Monday’s 15-team final round, which came at 18 over par. Stanford head coach Conrad Ray was understandably disappointed about the end result but pleased with his team’s strong effort at the end of the round which nearly carried them into the final day.
“It was a tough day for our men, but we hung in there and almost made the cut with some great golf at the very end,” Ray said after Sunday’s round. “We fell a bit short in our quest to make match play, but I’m proud of how the guys fought until the end.”
The tournament was held at Karsten Creek Golf Club just off the campus of Oklahoma State. The course played tough all week. Tournament favorite and host Oklahoma State won the stroke play portion as a team with an even par finish across four days. Broc Everett of Augusta University won the individual title in a playoff with a seven-under total.
Stanford had a different player step up to lead the team each round. The Cardinal were in the Top 15 for much of the first two days after a solid four-over opening round, paced by junior Brandon Wu’s three-under 69, which put him in ninth individually. In the second round, Salinda was the hero, as he came in with a 69 of his own. That was the fourth lowest round of the day and put him in ninth overall after two days. And in the third round, Sweggle led the team with his 69.
Ray was particularly excited for the senior to have such a solid finish, saying, “Jeffrey Swegle’s under-par round was a great way to top off a great career.”
Only Salinda was able to sustain good golf across all three days. His consistency earned him one of the nine spots in the final round for individuals whose team did not qualify. After sitting at four-under after the first two rounds, Salinda struggled a bit in the third round but still came in with a one-over final round that helped him move up the leaderboard into a tie for 15th. Ray was impressed with the All Pac-12 Second Team performer’s poise in the charged atmosphere of the final round.
“Isaiah put up a great round today and was nearly flawless from tee to green,” Ray said after Salinda’s round today. “It was fun to see him step up in the moment with some big crowds and the vibes you have during the final stroke play round of the NCAA Championships. It was a great way to cap off a strong season.”
Unfortunately, the rest of the Cardinal golfers were unable to match Salinda’s consistency. After his great start, Wu dropped off in the second round with a 10-over 82. He finished in a tie for 83rd at nine-over. But it was still a breakout season for the junior, who earned All Pac-12 First Team honors and finished second at the NCAA Pacific Regional with a 14-under total.
Sweggle finished in a tie for 57th at six-over thanks to his fantastic finish. He had a great final season of his career as well. Sweggle earned All Pac-12 Second Team honors and finished eighth at the Pac-12 Championships. The senior was also named to the conference All-Academic first team.
Fellow senior Franklin Huang did not have the best final tournament of his career, as he finished in a tie for 117th at 13-over, but he had a remarkable career regardless. Huang was All Pac-12 for three years in a row and finished in the Top 10 of the Pac-12 Championships each of those years. Ray called him “the heart and soul of the team all year.”
Sophomore David Snyder also had a rough tournament, as he finished in a tie for 137th at 17-over, but he showed solid improvement from his freshman year. Snyder qualified for the Pac-12 and NCAA Championships for the first time.
Overall, Stanford showed a lot of promise this year, concluding with six Top Five finishes including second at the NCAA Pacific Regionals. The Cardinal will return the majority of the roster next season, as senior Bradley Knox will join Sweggle and Huang as the only players to depart. It could be another special year on the Farm for the storied program.
Contact King Jemison at kingj ‘at’ stanford.edu.