By Andrew Tan
Swinging through San Luis Obispo for the Bruin Wave Invitational from Monday to Tuesday, the No. 4 Stanford women’s golf team captured their second tournament title in as many tries this spring season. The Cardinal finished with a total score of 31-over 895, closing strong with an 8-over 296 on the final 18, good for their best showing of the contest.
Sophomore Mika Liu led the charge, completing three rounds at the par-72 San Luis Obispo Country Club in 224 strokes for a +8 score that put her in a tie for third overall. The podium finish for Liu was the best of her collegiate career and critical to Stanford’s push ahead of second-place Oregon for the top spot.
Liu’s performance became even more important when considering that Stanford junior Albane Valenzuela, the No. 2-ranked collegiate player by GolfWeek coming into the tournament, did not have her best showing. In this way, Liu played the role of a young Michelangelo (the teenage mutant ninja turtle, not the Renaissance sculptor) covering for Master Splinter – Valenzuela – when ambushed by Shredder and his cronies – the Oregon Ducks.
Stanford played the first two rounds on Monday, closing in a tie for second with No. 5 UCLA. The leader through two, Oregon took a seven-stroke lead into Tuesday, but this seemingly wide margin partially resulted from the Ducks being unable to complete both initial rounds of play due to darkness. Perhaps the shroud of blackness that consumed Oregon in its second round of play was an omen foreshadowing its impending defeat at the hands of the Cardinal the next day.
By the last strokes of the third round, the Ducks were no longer the ferocious mallards that so often scare young children but rather the sweet little ducklings from the children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings,” sitting ducks in every essence of the phrase.
Junior Ziyi Wang also capitalized on an early duck season by putting in the finest final two rounds of any Cardinal player in the invitational. Wang finished tied for eighth at 9-over 225.
Junior Andrea Lee – GolfWeek’s No. 3-ranked collegiate golfer – rebounded from an unusually poor second round with a 1-under 71 in the final round to help propel Stanford into first. Despite Valenzuela’s disappointing showing overall, she put in four birdies through the first ten in the third to close the gap with Oregon. Stars shine when the lights are brightest, and Lee and Valenzuela both came through when it mattered.
Once Stanford overtook Oregon, they never looked back. Lee ripped through the back nine with three consecutive birdies after the turn; late birdies from Lee, Wang and freshmen Calista Reyes secured the win for the Cardinal.
The team now begins a long break before their next tournament, the Arizona State Invitational in Phoenix from March 29-31.