To close its regular season, Stanford men’s golf competed in the 74th annual Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz. The Cardinal relied on its depth throughout the three-day event to beat all teams but one: No. 7 Pepperdine.
The Western Intercollegiate has a unique format, in that teams send out six golfers and count the five lowest scores. The consequence of this play-six, count-five format is that teams must put consistently low scores on the board to succeed.
In round one of the tournament, Stanford was the model of consistency. All six golfers in the starting lineup shot rounds between 71 and 73, and the Cardinal moved into fourth place out of the 13 teams. Junior Daulet Tuleubayev and freshman Michael Thorbjornsen led the way with rounds of one-over-par 71, while fifth year Henry Shimp, junior Ethan Ng and sophomore Barclay Brown all posted 72.
However, the lowest round of the day came from senior Nate Menon, who was competing in the tournament as an individual. Menon went bogey-free for his last 14 holes to shoot even par and tie for 12th.
The shot of the tournament came from freshman Jake Beber-Frankel in the first round. On the 15th hole, one of Pasatiempo’s signature par threes, Beber-Frankel spun a 52-degree wedge back into the cup for his first collegiate hole-in-one.
The second round belonged to freshman Karl Vilips. After a one-over-par start through three holes, Vilips caught fire with his putter and made a remarkable seven birdies. He dropped a shot on the difficult 18th hole but still recorded the lowest round of the tournament, a five-under-par 65.
Brown made three birdies and just two bogeys to shoot 69 in the second round. Shimp and Thorbjornsen chipped in rounds of 71, while Tuleubayev and Ng both shot 76. After round two, the Cardinal was in third place behind Washington and Pepperdine.
In the final round, the Cardinal posted the second-best team score for the tournament: a three-under-par 347. However, this solid play was not enough to catch a very strong Pepperdine team.
Shimp drew on his past experience at Pasatiempo to shoot the best round of the day. After an even-par first 11 holes, he went birdie-birdie-eagle to reach four under par. Shimp didn’t let up and finished the round with a sizzling 66. His one-under-par total for the three rounds was good for a tie for sixth overall.
Vilips’ stellar play on Tuesday earned him a spot in the final group. Playing alongside Pepperdine junior Joe Highsmith and BYU junior Carson Lundell, Vilips made a run at the coveted Blue Jacket. An eagle at the sixth hole followed by birdies at the seventh and ninth brought him to within one shot of the lead.
By the 17th hole, Vilips still had a chance at the title and was only two strokes behind Highsmith. Unfortunately, an untimely double bogey all but erased his chances at a victory.
Despite not winning, this was a very strong week for the Cardinal. Stanford beat several highly ranked teams, including No. 23 San Diego State and No. 43 Washington. Additionally, five Cardinal golfers placed in the top 15 (Vilips, Shimp, Brown, Thorbjornsen and Menon).
The Cardinal will look to bring this consistency to its next event, the Pac-12 Championships, which begin on April 26.