Few records remained intact this week as the No. 1–ranked Stanford women’s golf team competed in the Gunrock Invitational at Del Paso Country Club. Sophomore Rachel Heck led the Cardinal to the best team performance in the history of collegiate women’s golf, a 50-under par tournament total.
By the end of the first 18 holes on Monday, Stanford had already broken a school record. The Cardinal’s previous 18-hole record was 13-under-par, and it posted a staggering 23-under-par in the opening round. The Cardinal entered round two with a seemingly insurmountable 18-stroke lead.
Sophomore Rachel Heck led the Cardinal in their record-breaking round. The reigning Annika Award winner made 11 birdies en route to a nine-under-par 63. She finished the round in first place overall, while freshmen Caroline Sturdza and Rose Zhang shared second place with 66 each.
The Cardinal continued their historic run in in the afternoon on Monday, this time setting a 36-hole school record with a total of 34-under par.
Heck continued to impress in the second round and set a new 36-hole school record by finishing at 13-under-par. Heck played nearly flawless golf on Monday, recording 17 birdies in the two rounds.
“She’s hitting every shot,” head coach Anne Walker said of Heck. “She’s very loose and confident and relaxed out there.”
Zhang also continued to roll in the second round, turning a clean scorecard. She finished with 10 birdies and 26 pars in the first two rounds.
With these incredible performances, it was no surprise that Heck and Zhang maintained their positions at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round.
The Cardinal kept their foot on the gas in the third round and, as a result, were able to secure a monstrous victory. Stanford’s 35-stroke win over Washington, the next closest team, was the largest in the team’s history. On its way to this demolition, the Cardinal set even more school records, along with a collegiate one.
Entering the Gunrock, Stanford’s record for 54 holes was 28-under-par, and the NCAA record was held by LSU at 46-under-par. Stanford posted an astounding 50-under-par this week, shattering both records.
The team’s success was largely a result of Heck and Zhang’s outstanding individual performances. Heck was more dominant than ever: at 18-under-par, she set the school record for 54 holes. She was also just one stroke away from tying the NCAA record en route to her eighth individual championship in the past year.
Zhang finished right behind Heck in second place, posting an exceptional 14-under-par. The score was good for the fourth-best 54-hole score in school history. Sophomore Sadie Englemann came in fourth place overall with a total of nine-under-par.
The team’s historic success at Gunrock was not entirely shocking to Walker.
“I believe in the system we have in place,” Walker said. “We have a group where they’re not only talented, but fighters … and when you’ve got a lot of fight in you, good things happen.”
The Cardinal will look to carry the momentum from their record-setting performance to their next tournament. Stanford will travel to the Meadow Club in Fairfax, Calif. for the Juli Inkster Invitational on March 7.