By Andrew Tan
In a disappointing end to an otherwise bright conference season, No. 4 Stanford women’s golf (+16) concluded play Wednesday at Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes, CA with a fourth-place finish in the Pac-12 Championship, behind No. 1 USC (-1), No. 7 Arizona (+10) and No. 15 Arizona State (+15).
Junior Albane Valenzuela, who led the individual pack for the majority of the tournament, struggled on the back nine in the final round and would finish second after ceding her four-stroke lead to Arizona State’s Olivia Mehaffey and losing a playoff on 18 with both players sitting 4-under after 54 holes.
During Tuesday’s second round, Stanford shot 3-over 287, a strong mark that would give the team a chance for a comeback over the Trojans the following day. Valenzuela continued her tear through Palos Verdes with a 1-under 70 to preserve a four-stroke lead into the final round and lower a score (-7) that comfortably led the next Cardinal player, junior Andrea Lee (+3).
The next three top scorers for Stanford, Lee (even-par 71), freshman Aline Krauter (1-over 72) and junior Ziyi Wang (3-over 74) all put in solid performances to help the Card keep pace with the well-rounded USC squad.
Heading into Wednesday, Stanford knew it would need a perfect round of play and an average showing from USC, but instead, what ensued was the opposite. USC (2-under 282) put in its best round of the tournament while Arizona (4-under 280) and Arizona State (3-under 281) shot the best two rounds of the tournament; meanwhile, Stanford went for a measly 8-over 292 and dropped two spots to fourth.
Still, Stanford will have a chance to redeem itself in NCAA play when regional championships begin on Monday, May 6, for which the Cardinal will almost certainly be selected. If all five starters can play up to their potential on the national stage, Stanford should have a good shot at the title.
The field and locations for NCAA Regionals have yet to be announced, but play will begin on Monday, May 6, regardless of teams or locale.