No. 14 Stanford men’s golf played host to 27 teams in The Goodwin at the Stanford Golf Course this week. The Cardinal led for the majority of the tournament but ultimately finished in third place behind No. 9 Washington and Nevada after a three-over-par final round.
In this year’s edition of The Goodwin, the Stanford golf family remembered legendary head coach Wally Goodwin, who led the Cardinal from 1987-2000. To honor his contribution to the program, Stanford renamed its annual tournament, which was formerly called the United States Intercollegiate, after him in 2014. This week’s tournament was the first held after Goodwin passed away last July.
With the extra motivation of honoring coach Goodwin and playing at their home course, the Cardinal excelled in the opening round of the tournament on Thursday. The team combined for a 12-under-par total to take first place out of 28 programs.
Leading the way in round one was junior Barclay Brown. The South Yorkshire native eagled his opening hole and never looked back, posting a bogey-free 64. He finished the day tied for first place overall with San José State’s Kristopher Stiles.
Sophomore Karl Vilips made six birdies on his opening nine en route to a five-under-par 65, while fellow sophomore Michael Thorbjornsen shot a two-under-par 68. Senior Ethan Ng recovered from a triple bogey on the seventh hole to post 71.
While the Cardinal were focused on the team competition, four of their players were playing in the tournament as individuals, and on Thursday, three of them recorded their best rounds of the season to date.
In his first year at The Goodwin, freshman Alex Yang shot the lowest round of his collegiate career: a three-under-par 67. Fifth year Nate Menon and senior Daulet Tuleubayev fired matching 68s for their lowest rounds of the season.
In the second round on Friday, Stanford extended its team lead to seven shots over second place SMU.
Vilips emerged as the player to beat in the second round. Teeing off the back nine, he birdied two of his first three holes and made the turn in 32 strokes. He would finish the day with a four-under-par 66 and in a tie for first place on the individual leaderboard.
Thorbjornsen also continued his strong play into the second round, tying for the best score in the field on Friday with a five-under-par 65. Sixth year Henry Shimp and Brown completed Stanford’s scoring with rounds of 70 and 71, respectively.
In The Goodwin’s 52-year history, Stanford had previously won the event 16 times, most recently in 2019. On the individual side, past Stanford champions include Tom Watson ’71, Joel Kribel ’99, Patrick Rodgers ’15 and Maverick McNealy ’17.
On Saturday, Stanford — with a seven-shot team lead — had a golden opportunity to put its name back on the list of champions. Vilips, playing in the final group, had a chance to join the illustrious list of past medalists.
But unfortunately for the Cardinal, as the afternoon wave of players teed off at the Stanford Golf Course, the tides began to turn.
The Cardinal got off to a decent start in the final round with three players — Shimp, Thorbjornsen and Vilips — making birdie on the opening hole, but following that, no Stanford golfer in the starting lineup would make another birdie until the seventh.
Meanwhile, several teams in the field were surging, including close-by Washington and Nevada. By the time the Stanford players had made the turn, the seven-shot lead was erased.
Throughout the back nine, Stanford, Washington and Nevada traded blows.
The Cardinal got a boost when three of their four counting players made birdie on the par-five 16th hole. However, at the tough 18th, the Cardinal dropped four shots.
In the end, the Huskies, who shot a tournament-best 10-under-par in the final round, prevailed. Nevada shot six-under-par on Saturday to sneak into second place, two strokes ahead of Stanford.
In the individual competition, Vilips contended on the front nine. He birdied the first hole to reach 10-under-par for the tournament. Even after he made bogeys on the third and fifth holes, Vilips still had a realistic shot at medalist honors.
But disaster struck on the difficult sixth hole for Vilips, where he lost two drives and made a quintuple bogey.
After such a poor hole, many golfers would lose focus, and their errors would compound. However, Vilips, ever the competitor, responded with an eagle on his very next hole. He played the rest of his round in even par to shoot 74.
For the tournament, Vilips finished at five-under-par in a tie for 15th. Thorbjornsen recorded Stanford’s best individual finish, a tie for eighth place.
Although Stanford was unable to hold onto its final-round lead at The Goodwin, the team appears to be in prime position to contend this postseason. Eight Stanford golfers currently boast sub-73 scoring averages, and the team has collected five top-five finishes on the year.
The Cardinal will have a final regular seasonal tune-up at the Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo Golf Club before they head to Sammamish, Wash. for the Pac-12 Championships. The first round of the Western Intercollegiate is scheduled for April 11.