Men’s golf finishes fourth at the Fighting Illini Invitational

Sept. 19, 2021, 7:55 p.m.

To open its fall season, Stanford men’s golf competed in the Fighting Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields Country Club. Led by sophomore Michael Thorbjornsen, the Cardinal took fourth place in a stacked 15-team field.

In the first round on Friday, Stanford started slowly. Olympia Fields proved to be a difficult test, and no Cardinal golfer shot par or better.

Thorbjornsen posted the lowest first-round score, a one-over-par 71 that featured three birdies. Sophomore Karl Vilips and junior Barclay Brown recorded rounds of 72 and 73, respectively. Sixth-year Henry Shimp shot 75 as the Cardinal finished the day in a tie for ninth place.

Stanford struggled to avoid big numbers in the opening round — every golfer in the starting lineup, with the exception of Vilips, made at least one double bogey or worse.

The Cardinal then improved by seven strokes as a team in the second round, shooting a four-over-par 284. Shimp became the first Cardinal golfer to shoot an under-par round this season. He started with back-to-back bogeys before making birdies on the third, 11th, 13th and 15th holes. He finished with a one-under-par 69 which catapulted him 24 spots up the individual leaderboard.

The sophomore duo of Thorbjornsen and Vilips continued their strong play in the second round, each improving on their first-round score by one stroke. Thorbjornsen’s one-over-par total through the first two rounds placed him in the top-10.

Entering the final round, the Cardinal found themselves in the middle of the pack. The team was in a tie for seventh place and 14 strokes behind tournament leader North Carolina. To post a strong tournament finish, the Cardinal would need to go low in the final round.

And that’s exactly what they did. On Sunday, Stanford shot the lowest team score, a one-under-par 279.

All four of Stanford’s counting golfers equaled or bettered their best round of the week. Shimp caught fire on the back nine, making five birdies en route to a score of 68. Thorbjornsen made four birdies of his own in his round of 69, while Brown and Vilips each shot 71.

Thorbjornsen’s consistency throughout all three rounds led to the first top-10 of his collegiate career, a tie for seventh place. Shimp finished just behind in a tie for 12th, while Vilips ended in a tie for 20th.

As a team, Stanford moved up three spots on Sunday and placed fourth overall. Only No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Arizona State and the tournament champions, No. 4 North Carolina, finished ahead of the Cardinal. Stanford was able to defeat several strong programs, including No. 1 Pepperdine, No. 10 Illinois and No. 12 Florida State.

The team will look to carry its momentum from the final round of the Fighting Illini Invitational to its next tournament, the Colonial Collegiate Invitational, which begins Oct. 4.

Gavin McDonell is a former managing editor of the sports section. He is a junior from San Francisco, California who is studying Economics and Mathematics. His rooting interests include the San Francisco Giants, the Golden State Warriors, Max Homa and of course, the Stanford Cardinal. Contact him at gmcdonell 'at'

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