Despite relocating to drier climes for its regular season finale, the Stanford women’s golf team was ultimately unable to replicate its impressive performance from last year’s PING/ASU Invitational at this season’s iteration of the event. The squad, led by freshman Casey Danielson, finished seventh in the fifteen-team field in Tempe, falling to four Pac-12 teams in the process. It was a far cry from the Card’s T-3rd showing on the Karsten Course just a season ago, and shows that Anne Walker’s quintet still has work to do if it is to realize its postseason aspirations.
Friday’s first round was certainly an inauspicious start for the Cardinal, who witnessed star sophomore Mariah Stackhouse shoot a highly uncharacteristic 5-over 77 — including two double bogeys — while also counting junior Mariko Tumangan’s 4-over 76. This offset the solid rounds delivered by Danielson and sophomore Lauren Kim, both of whom carded 1-under 71s. But the damage was already done, as Stanford was now well back of the leaders in the team standings, a hole out of which they never escaped.
The young squad certainly tried, however, roaring back on moving day. Stackhouse returned to her usual form, turning in a 2-under score anchored by a birdie on the very tough par-3 sixth hole. Kim and Danielson again snuck below par with 1-under rounds, and Tumangan improved upon her day one performance with a 1-over 73. All told, the Card bettered their first round aggregate score by 10 strokes, powering up the leaderboard and chipping away at their deficit. Still, the team was 12 shots behind 36-hole leader and eventual event winner South Carolina, making the team’s sluggish Friday start even more glaring.
But Saturday’s shift in momentum did not last for long, with Sunday’s final frame seeing the Card revert to its opening-round ways. This time, the duo of Kim and Danielson that has been Stanford’s rock during the spring season faltered and shot a combined 5-over. Stackhouse came in with a respectable even-par 72, but neither Tumangan nor freshman Quirine Eijkenboom were able to post a low enough fourth score to reverse the team’s fortunes.
At Sunday’s end, Stanford had recorded a 54-hole total of 12-over 876, going 8-over in the final round to place seventh. The Card ended up fifth out of the nine Pac-12 teams in the field, four strokes back of UCLA, eight behind Arizona and 17 behind Washington and host Arizona State. Though certainly not the worst conceivable outcome, the Cardinal surely would have liked to perform better against their conference foes with the Pac-12 Tournament looming.
One of the brighter spots in Tempe for Stanford was the continued development of freshman Danielson, who was the Cardinal’s low woman after finishing T-12th. The four-time Wisconsin state golf champion has improved her game markedly from the fall season, and has been her squad’s number one or two performer at each of its five spring events. With Tumangan seemingly in a rocky spot of her season, Danielson’s play will continue to be of great significance with the postseason only a few weeks away.
“The fall season was a bit of an adjustment period for me, just because I was getting used to college and college golf,” Danielson said. “I worked hard heading into the spring season on many parts of my game, and Coach Walker helped to move me in the right direction as I worked on my swing, putting and chipping. This [spring] season, my long irons were much more accurate and my up-and-down percentage was much higher. It was great to see my hard work pay off.”
“At Karsten this week, I really did drive the ball and hit a lot of greens,” she added. “But I was disappointed in my short-game performance. So I plan to continue to work on that heading into the postseason, because both putting and chipping will be key in order for me to continue to be competitive in the future.”
Stanford will need her to continue that competitive play throughout the postseason, which begins Friday, April 25 at the Pac-12 Women’s Golf Championships in Corvallis, Ore.
Contact Cameron Miller at cmiller6 ‘at’ stanford.edu.