Golf tournaments in Hawaii sometimes aren’t always all they are cracked up to be. First, there’s the long flight and the subsequent jet lag. Then, there’s the issue of actually focusing on the event. The latter can be quite a task, as picturesque ocean views and beautiful beaches can be just a little bit distracting.
Sophomore Mariah Stackhouse and the rest of her Stanford women’s golf teammates learned that lesson the hard way at the Pac-12 Preview held at the Nanea Golf Course in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, which concluded yesterday. The Cardinal, which entered the tournament ranked fifth in the nation — only good enough for fourth in the ultra-competitive Pac-12 — finished a disappointing sixth at Nanea, 22 strokes back of second-ranked USC.
The 54-hole event spanned only two days, meaning players had to complete in two full rounds on Monday. Junior Mariko Tumangan, who has shown flashes of greatness throughout the fall, paced the Card in the opening frame, shooting 5-under on the front nine en route to a 4-under 69 on the extremely exclusive, par-73 course.
Stackhouse also had a solid first round, notching a 2-under 71 to put Stanford in a tie for seventh with Cal. Head coach Anne Walker’s squad fared slightly better in the afternoon, improving its cumulative team score by three shots and jumping up to fifth in the team standings. Despite the resurgence, the Cardinal was already 13 strokes out of first and falling out of striking distance.
Monday’s second round saw freshman Casey Danielson lead the way for her team, carding a 3-under 70 despite a double-bogey at the par-4 sixth hole. Stackhouse repeated her 2-under morning performance, birdieing three out of her last four holes to move into a tie for sixth in the individual race. Tumangan, who followed up her first round of 69 with a less impressive second-round score of 74, was still in the top 10 after 36 holes.
Yesterday’s final round was not kind to most teams, with only one squad — the Trojans — coming in under par. Stanford recorded its worst single round of the tournament, shooting 10-over as a team without a single golfer breaking par. The Card was leapfrogged by another top-10 team, Arizona State, and by Oregon to ultimately finish in sixth place.
Even in a stacked Pac-12, Walker had hoped for a top-five placing at the tournament. Although the final tournament of its fall schedule will likely leave a bad taste in her players’ mouths, the past five events revealed several key aspects of this particular team that will certainly aid it as it moves into the spring.
Most importantly, the Cardinal realized that its squad possesses true depth. Though Stackhouse was the low-scorer in three of the five tournaments, Tumangan and fellow sophomore Lauren Kim proved that they could step up and lead the team as well. Stanford’s team depth was clear in the action at Nanea, where the team had three different low-scorers in each of the three rounds.
Furthermore, senior Marissa Mar’s play at the Stanford Intercollegiate showed the Card that it would still have a very capable golfer to call upon, should an injury or any inconsistent play arise. The fall also was an opportunity for the freshmen, Danielson and Quirine Eijkenboom, to show their mettle, with both performing admirably in their NCAA debuts.
Finally, the team’s performances at the Edean Ihlanfeldt and Windy City Classic in particular indicate that this team is capable of being an NCAA contender if everybody is clicking at the right time.
Stanford will open its spring schedule back at home, as it plays host to the Peg Barnard Invitational on Feb. 15-16.
Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 ‘at’ stanford.edu.