Stanford men’s golf will open its season on Friday, competing in The Fighting Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields Country Club. With the entirety of their starting lineup returning from last season, the Cardinal will look to make a statement in their first event.
Stanford’s five-man lineup will feature sixth year Henry Shimp, senior Ethan Ng, junior Barclay Brown and sophomores Michael Thorbjornsen and Karl Vilips.
Shimp, who returns for his sixth year due to an NCAA COVID-19 eligibility extension, will look to pick up where he left off last season. In his final round of the year, Shimp shot an eight-under-par 64 to force a playoff for the Pac-12 Championship. Although Shimp ultimately finished in second, his performance at the conference championship earned him a spot on the All-Pac-12 Second Team.
As a senior, Ng brings valuable experience to the table. Other than Shimp, he is the only Cardinal golfer in the lineup who was on the 2019 NCAA Championship team. Last season, he posted the second-best scoring average for the Cardinal (71.80) and collected three top-20 tournament finishes along the way.
Brown was, for large swaths of last season, the best golfer on the team. He posted a team-best scoring average of 71.10 and was the only Cardinal golfer to win a tournament, picking up medalist honors at the Cowboy Classic in April. His performance on the course earned him several honors, including spots on both the All-Pac-12 First Team and the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team.
Rounding out the Cardinal lineup is the sophomore duo of Thorbjornsen and Vilips. The two were fixtures in the starting lineup as freshman last season, only missing one event between the two of them. Both golfers were named to the All-Pac-12 Newcomer Team and recorded scoring averages below 73.
Thorbjornsen is the Stanford golfer to watch this week as he comes off an incredible run in individual tournaments over the summer. In July, he won both the Massachusetts Amateur and the Western Amateur. For this performance, Thorbjornsen received the Ben Hogan Award for golfer of the month. In August, he competed in the US Amateur, the most prestigious tournament in amateur golf. Thorbjornsen survived stroke play qualifying at the US Amateur before being eliminated in the round of 32 in match play.
The Fighting Illini Invitational’s 15-team field is stacked and features the top five teams in the country. At No. 15 in the preseason poll, Stanford is ranked behind seven teams competing in the tournament: No. 1 Pepperdine, No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Arizona State, No. 4 North Carolina, No. 5 Texas, No. 10 Illinois and No. 12 Florida State.
In this week’s event, the Cardinal will not only be competing against the other teams in the tournament, but they will also be battling the golf course itself. Olympia Fields Country Club has hosted four professional majors in its history, including two US Open Championships. As such, the 7,200-yard course will be one of the toughest challenges the Cardinal face all season.
Stanford men’s golf will tee off at the three-day, 54-hole tournament on Friday morning in Olympia Fields, Ill.