The No. 17 Stanford women’s golf team took second at the NCAA St. George Regional last Thursday through Saturday, successfully qualifying for its sixth straight NCAA Championship.
Playing in the regional finals for the 23rd consecutive year, the Cardinal had been a favorite to finish near the top, and the team managed to justify those expectations and impress throughout the weekend with its depth and error-free play. Even as star junior Mariah Stackhouse struggled, the squad managed to improve throughout the tournament and came out above a number of top-rated programs.
Junior Lauren Kim, the nation’s No. 21 individual player, led the way for Stanford, riding on the back of a strong final round to end at +7 overall. Her eventual finish in a tie for seventh place overall matched her landing spot at Pac-12 Championships two weeks earlier, showing a remarkable level of consistency for the often-chaotic postseason.
Kim finished third overall at the 2014 NCAA Championships and will hope to equal this strong performance when the team heads to Florida for this year’s finals.
Kim was closely trailed by standout performances from two of the younger members of the team, freshman Shannon Aubert and sophomore Casey Danielson. Danielson trailed Kim by just a single shot at +8, while Aubert was one stroke further back at +9. Aubert had the lowest score of anyone in the second round, shooting -2 to record a 69, while Danielson proved reliable in every condition as she edged her way past her teammate into a tie for ninth overall in the tournament.
Sophomore Quirine Eijkenboom came in fourth for the Cardinal, overcoming a difficult Thursday performance by going +3 over the final two rounds. Eijkenboom’s +15 was good enough to land her in a tie for 34th overall, a rise of 18 positions from her Day 2 interim result.
Stackhouse, the No. 26 individual in the country, rounded out Stanford’s squad. The all-conference junior struggled greatly on Day 1, but showed signs of what she was capable of through improving scores in the second and final rounds.
While Stackhouse will likely not be thrilled by her performance, she hardly could have picked a better time for an off round with the rest of the team performing at such a high level.
“We received terrific play from our underclassmen in a pressure-filled situation,” said women’s golf head coach Anne Walker. “I am impressed by Lauren and Casey’s top-10 finishes. This was a difficult course that demanded complete focus from start to finish. I think the mental toughness we needed here will benefit us in Florida in two weeks.”
The Cardinal’s efforts were enough so that only USC was able to stay in front of them, with most of the Trojan’s six-stroke lead resulting from a match-best performance in high winds on the first day. Stanford’s collective +34 put it in front of national No. 8 Arkansas and No. 10 Virginia, both of which the team will face again in the finals.
The Cardinal will enjoy nearly two weeks of rest before heading to the NCAA Championships in Bradenton, Florida on May 22. The six-day event will give the team a shot at finishing first in the country for the first time in program history.
Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu.