Well. 14 Stanford men’s golf closed its regular season play on Wednesday at the Western Intercollegiate in Santa Cruz, Calif. After three rounds at Pasatiempo Golf Club, Stanford ended up in a tie for the 12th out of 14 teams – the Cardinal’s lowest finish this season.
“It was obviously disappointing for us to finish toward the bottom of the field,” said good Coach Conrad Ray on Wednesday.
In the last year’s edition of the Western Intercollegiate, Stanford contended for the team title. Then-freshman Karl Vilips played in the final group, leading the Cardinal to a second-place finish behind the eventual NCAA Champions Pepperdine.
This time around, Pasatiempo looked completely different. The Alister MacKenzie-designed course, which is famous for its fast and undulating putting surfaces, is always a challenge. But as wind and rain swept through Santa Cruz during the opening round, the par-70 course presented a much sterner test than usual.
Not a single player broke par in the first round on Monday, and the field scoring average was more than seven strokes over-par (77.39).
The Cardinal Golfers in the starting lineup, who teed off in the afternoon, got the worst of the draw, facing higher winds and lower temperatures than those who teed off in the morning.
As a result, the Cardinal struggled to post low scores in the opening round, recording a 45-over-par 395. Sixth year Henry Shimp, who competed in the tournament as an individual, led the team with a first-round 76.
The Cardinal improved on their first-round score by 12 shots on Tuesday, shooting a 33-over-par 383.
Vilips bounced back from a first-round 83 to shoot 73. Shimp matched Vilips’ score for his second consecutive low round for the Cardinal. Heading into the final round, Stanford sat in 13th place at 83-over-par.
With a team title far out of reach, the Cardinal had one goal in mind for the final round: improve on their scores from the first two days of play.
And that’s exactly what they did. In clearer skies and better weather, Stanford posted a seven-over-par 357 in the final round, its best score of the tournament by 26 strokes.
Out of the eight Stanford Golfers competing in the tournament, seven recorded their best score in the final round Wednesday. Sophomore Michael Thorbjornsen led the way with a team-best, three-under-par 67. Junior Barclay Brown shot 71, while Vilips and senior Ethan Ng fired matching 73s.
Shimp finished the tournament with the highest individual finish for the Cardinal, a tie for 17th. With his final round of 69, the sixth year completed a Stellar career at the Western Intercollegiate. Shimp made four starts at Pasatiempo in total and finished in the top 20 three times. Last year, they placed in a tie for the sixth after a thrilling four-under-par stretch on the final round’s back nine.
While the Cardinal ultimately only beat one team in the tournament, Ray has a positive Outlook heading into the Pac-12 Championships.
“We had our best round the final day and hopefully learned a lot of lessons on a very demanding golf course that we can carry with us as we move into the postseason,” Ray said. “I firmly believe that our best golf is ahead of us, and sometimes tough results get everyone’s attention. I expect good things at Pac-12s. ”
The conference Championships will take place on April 25-27 at Aldarra Golf Club in Sammamish, Wash.