By Andrew Tan
No. 12 Stanford men’s golf will make its sixth straight appearance at the NCAA Championships on Friday — the first day of the six-day national tournament from May 24-29 at Blessings Golf Club in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Stanford is an eight-time national title winner but has not captured top honors since 2007.
Seeded tenth out of 30 teams, the Cardinal enters as one of the hottest teams in the competition, having won its last four tournaments, including the NCAA Stanford Regional last week. Stanford will look to carry this momentum into Arkansas and qualify for match play after the first four days of play, which the team failed to do last year at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Oklahoma.
The top eight teams after four rounds of stroke play advance to the playoff round. Before the final round of match play, the 15 teams with the highest scores are cut from stroke play. The individual champion is decided on the final day of stroke play. Quarterfinal and semifinal matches are scheduled for May 28, while the final is slated for May 29.
Stanford enters the tournament with a lineup clicking at every level. Its top two golfers, seniors Isaiah Salinda and Brandon Wu, have been on a tear of late, including two victories in the past two months for the former and six top-10 finishes in the last eight competitions for the latter. The Cardinal has also received strong backend play from the likes of juniors David Snyder and Henry Shimp, as well as freshman Daulet Tuleubayev.
Though Stanford’s best play has come in the past two months, the team has been consistent throughout the year — finishing out of the top-10 only once despite playing one of the most difficult schedules in the country.
If nothing else, Stanford has already proven that it can compete against top teams in this latest win streak, most notably besting No. 2 Arizona State last week at the NCAA Stanford Regional.
Head Coach Conrad Ray will hope to have Stanford well-prepared and may seek advice from first-year assistant coach Matt Bortis, who was a standout player for the Arkansas collegiate team from 2004-06 and knows the course very well.
The Cardinal open the tournament at 11:27 a.m. PST on Friday on the first tee with Auburn and Cal.
Contact Andrew Tan at tandrew ‘at’ stanford.edu.