By Andrew Tan
Stanford men’s golf celebrated early Wednesday morning at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas with the program’s ninth national title and its first since 2007. After eking out wins over third-seeded Wake Forest and second-seeded Vanderbilt in the quarter- and semifinals on Tuesday, the Cardinal dispatched No. 5 Texas 3-2 with none of its match wins reaching the final hole.
In doing so, the Cardinal golfers added to an already impressive list of Stanford national championship teams this season that includes women’s volleyball, women’s swimming, men’s gymnastics, women’s water polo and women’s tennis. With Wednesday’s men’s golf national title, Stanford athletics has collected a nation-leading 123 NCAA titles and ties its record for most NCAA titles in an academic year with six, previously achieved in 1996-97.
Though the Cardinal entered the NCAA Tournament as an underdog — the No. 10 nationally ranked team in a field that included five of the top six teams in the country — the squad looked to have a legitimate shot at top honors as it traveled to Fayetteville on a burner, having won its last four tournaments.
Stanford made it five straight with strong play throughout the tournament from Friday to Wednesday with contributions from every member of the five-man contingent.
“I’m just so proud of these guys,” said Knowles Family Director of Men’s Golf Conrad Ray. “We battled all week. It is the longest week in golf, and to play that fine Texas team and do what we did today, I can’t say enough about my guys.”
Of all the heroic performances from the Cardinal, the consistency from seniors Brandon Wu and Isaiah Salinda stood out and provided the perfect ending to the duo’s collegiate careers.
Stanford’s dynamic one-two punch made it three-for-three in match play on Wednesday as each player won his individual matchup four-up with three holes to go after both had taken their quarter- and semifinal matches the day before.
The strong showing from Stanford’s top two players was representative of the breakout seasons put together by Wu and Salinda to carry the Cardinal to the national title.
Before the year, neither player had won a tournament in his collegiate career. Wu would pick up his first victory at the Goodwin on March 30 and Salinda registered his first individual win at the Western Intercollegiate on April 17 before quickly picking up his second at the NCAA Stanford Regional on May 15.
Besides these wins, both players also consistently placed in the top-10 in the home stretch of the season and only continued this level of play in the NCAA Championship.
While Wu and Salinda proved instrumental in Stanford’s championship run by giving the Cardinal wins in every round of match play, the team required a third individual win to advance against each opponent. It was this third winner from Tuesday to Wednesday morning that demonstrated Stanford’s depth and well-roundedness, with each of the remaining three players taking a turn giving Stanford its match-sealing victory.
Junior David Snyder and freshman Daulet Tuleubayev each sunk clutch putts on the last holes of their matches in the quarterfinal and semifinal respectively to help Stanford advance to the final. Wednesday was junior Henry Shimp’s turn.
Shimp did not take his match down to the wire as his teammates had done the day before, besting his opponent two-up with one hole left to go.
The men’s golf team (2007, 2019) became just the third men’s program to win multiple NCAA titles in the last 15 years, joining men’s gymnastics (2009, 2011, 2019) and men’s soccer (2015, 2016, 2017).