On Wednesday, No. 10 Stanford men’s golf headed into the final round of the Southern Highlands Collegiate just six strokes back of first place, but was collectively 10-over-par in its third round to finish at 9-over for the tournament, good for a tie for a fourth-place finish out of 15 teams in a field with seven top-15 schools.
The tournament took place Tuesday and Wednesday and was hosted by UNLV in Las Vegas at Southern Highlands golf course. No. 7 USC came out on top, shooting an 11-under-par team score of 853 on the par-72 track, besting runner-up, No. 4 Oklahoma State by 10 shots.
Stanford had a hot start in round one, going 7-under as a team behind senior standout Maverick McNealy’s 5-under 67, sophomore Isaiah Salinda’s 2-under 70, and sophomore Brandon Wu’s 1-under 71. USC went 10-under as a team in round one, with four players carding rounds below-par. The Trojans were led by freshman Cheng Jin, the No. 3 player on their ladder. In rounds one and three, Jin posted scores of 3-under, and finished at 5-under for the tournament.
In round two, Stanford fared less well, shooting a 6-over 294, allowing USC to extend its lead to six shots at the 36-hole mark. Well within striking distance, Stanford couldn’t take make any magic happen and came in with a 10-over 298. On the final 18, all five of the Cardinal’s players finished over par.
On the round three struggles, Stanford head coach Conrad Ray said, “It was a disappointing day, but you learn a lot of lessons in situations like these.”
He remained optimistic on how the experience could benefit the team going forward, adding, “It was a challenging golf course, and the setup was as close as you would find to an NCAA setup. There’s a lot of golf left this spring for our team.”
Individually, Stanford’s top finisher was McNealy, who finished 16th with a score of 1-under. Wu was only two shots behind McNealy, at 1-over, and tied for 18th. Salinda cracked the top 25, tying for 25th at 4-over. Senior Viraat Badhwar tied for 37th with a score of 8-over and junior Franklin Huang finished T-42 at 9-over.
The overall winners were Cal sophomore Collin Morikawa and Oklahoma junior Grant Hirschman, both of whom tied for first at 6-under. Morikawa showed a strong start in the first round, going 6-under while Hirschman finished stronger, going 4-under on his final 18.
Rounding out the top five were third-place finisher 11th-ranked Texas Tech, and 33rd-ranked Pepperdine, who followed a similar trajectory as Stanford by posting a 9-under first round followed by two over-par outings, en route to a T-4 finish. Other notables in the field were No.5 Illinois and No.2 Florida, which finished in eighth and ninth with scores of 12-over and 20-over, respectively.
The Cardinal is back in action at home March 30th through April 1st, as they host the Goodwin at the Stanford golf course.
Contact Jamie MacFarlane at [email protected].