No. 6 Stanford men’s golf capped off its fall season on Wednesday, competing in the Saint Mary’s Invitational at Poppy Hills Golf Course in Pebble Beach. The Cardinal led for the majority of the tournament but ultimately finished in second place, two strokes behind Oregon.
Stanford hit the ground running in the opening round, posting a 15-under-par 269 team total. The score was one of the best in program history (tied for the seventh-lowest of all-time), and it gave the Cardinal an eight-stroke advantage over No. 28 San Francisco in second place.
Senior Ethan Ng and junior Barclay Brown paced Stanford, firing matching rounds of six-under-par 65. Ng collected a staggering nine birdies, including seven in a stretch of eight holes. Brown made four birdies, an eagle on the par-five ninth hole and went bogey-free to shoot his 65. Both golfers ended the day in a tie for third place individually.
Sixth-year Henry Shimp shot a two-under-par 69, while sophomore Michael Thorbjornsen completed Stanford’s first-round scoring with a round of 70.
Stanford preserved its lead over the field in the second round by firing a four-under-par 280.
This time, sophomore Karl Vilips led the way. After making par on the first hole, Vilips made five straight birdies on holes two through six. On the back nine, he birdied the 10th and 14th holes before being set back by a double bogey on the 17th. He rebounded on 18, making birdie to become the third Cardinal golfer to shoot 65 in the tournament.
Apart from Vilips, no Stanford golfer broke 70 in the second round. Shimp posted an even-par 71, while Brown and Thorbjornsen each shot one-over-par 72.
Entering the final round, Stanford was in the driver’s seat with a seven-stroke lead over Oregon.
But the Ducks came out firing on Wednesday. On a day where the course scoring average was 72.92, four Oregon golfers posted rounds of 70 or better, resulting in a final-round total of 10-under-par.
The Cardinal maintained its slim lead over Oregon for much of Wednesday’s round but ultimately could not hold on. Each Cardinal golfer in the starting lineup registered a score between 70 and 74.
As the final round drew to a close, Stanford fell back to 17-under-par for the tournament. Oregon finished at 19-under-par for the 54-hole competition.
On the individual side, Brown was the highest-finishing Cardinal golfer. With a six-under-par total for 54 holes, Brown took third place. Vilips finished in a tie for fifth, and sophomore Jake Beber-Frankel, who competed as an individual outside of the starting lineup, tied for ninth.
The final round of the Saint Mary’s Invitational was a bitter ending to what has been a very successful fall season for Stanford men’s golf. The Cardinal finished inside the top five in each of their four tournaments, including winning the Colonial Collegiate Invitational in October. Additionally, five Stanford golfers (Beber-Frankel, Brown, Shimp, Thorbjornsen and Vilips) boast sub-72 scoring averages.
With such strong team and individual performances, the Cardinal should be on everyone’s radar when they resume play in the spring. Stanford’s first event of the new season will be the Amer Ari Intercollegiate in Kona, Hawaii, which begins Feb. 3.