Three events, three emphatic wins. To begin its season, the No. 1–ranked Stanford women’s golf team has lapped the field each time it has stepped on the course. At the Stanford Intercollegiate this weekend, the story was the same: the Cardinal cruised to a 22-stroke victory, while first-year student Rose Zhang brought home medalist honors.
In its first two tournaments, Stanford competed away from home at long and challenging golf courses. At both the Molly Collegiate Invitational and the Windy City Collegiate Classic, the Cardinal won the team competition with a 14-over-par score.
At the Stanford Golf Course on Friday, the skies were clear, and the conditions were ripe for scoring. In the opening round, the Cardinal took advantage, posting the fourth-lowest round in program history, an 11-under-par 273.
Competing in her first round on the Stanford Golf Course on Friday, Zhang played nearly flawless golf. She made seven birdies and just a single bogey to shoot 65. Her six-under-par total gave her a three-stroke lead over Texas’s Sara Kouskova on the individual side.
Senior Aline Krauter torched the front nine for a four-under-par 31 and finished with a 68. Sophomore Rachel Heck shot 69, and freshman Caroline Sturdza rounded out Stanford’s scoring with an even-par 71.
For the day, Stanford’s 11-under-par total was nine shots better than the nearest competitors, USC and Arizona State.
On Saturday, Zhang and the team continued their stellar play and expanded their leads.
For the second consecutive round, Zhang posted a six-under-par 65. She blitzed the front nine, making birdies on the first, third, fifth, seventh and ninth holes for a five-under-par 30. Sturdza shot a two-under-par 69, while Heck and Krauter both registered rounds of 70.
Entering the final round on Sunday, Stanford sat at 21-under-par, 20 strokes clear of the field. While the team victory was all but guaranteed, the Cardinal stayed focused and shot a seven-under-par 277.
Sturdza carded her second consecutive round of 69 on Sunday. She finished at four-under-par for the tournament, which placed her in a tie for fifth. Krauter and Heck both posted 72, which earned them seventh and 10th place finishes, respectively.
Junior Angelina Ye ended with her best round of the week, a two-under-par 69. Although Ye’s round on Sunday was her only counting score of the tournament, she finished in a tie for 19th out of 90 golfers.
Seeking her third victory in as many collegiate starts, Zhang picked up where she left off in the final round. She birdied the first hole and never looked back, carding a bogey-free round of 67.
Zhang tied and broke several school records along the way to her Stanford Intercollegiate victory. Her 12-under-par total for 36 holes tied Mariah Stackhouse’s ’16 record, and her 16-under-par total for 54 holes tied Heck’s score for the lowest in school history.
Zhang also became the first Stanford golfer ever, male or female, to win in each of their first three starts. In 1994, Tiger Woods won two of his first three tournaments at Stanford.
Even Zhang seemed a bit stunned by her record-setting performance.
“It’s truly amazing. When I came to college, I didn’t really expect to shoot a certain score or place a certain finish,” Zhang told GoStanford following her final round.
Whether or not Zhang expected to have this much success on the collegiate stage, her results speak for themselves, and people are taking notice.
“For me, I’m learning so much just to watch a player like this in action. Her patience is unreal,” Coach Anne Walker told GoStanford.
Stanford women’s golf will wrap up its fall season in two weeks’ time at the Pac-12 Preview in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Zhang and Heck will be absent from the lineup, as they represent the U.S. in the Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship.
The first round of the Pac-12 Preview is scheduled for Nov. 1.