Throughout the season, head coach Anne Walker has consistently prioritized team success over individual results. The top-ranked Cardinal’s body of work — five victories and top-three finishes in every other tournament — indicates it’s been a winning strategy for the team.
But in the last week, without a team competition on the schedule, members of the Stanford women’s golf team had the rare opportunity to compete in major tournaments as individuals.
Five Stanford golfers — freshmen Rose Zhang and Caroline Sturdza, sophomore Rachel Heck, junior Angelina Ye and senior Aline Krauter — played in perhaps the most prestigious tournament in all of women’s amateur golf: the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
The first two days of the tournament were held at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Evans, Ga., with the final round taking place on the hallowed grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club. The top 30 players after the first two days made the cut to advance to the site of this week’s Masters Tournament. Heck, Zhang and Krauter were three of these players.
After coming within a shot of making the sudden-death playoff in last year’s tournament, Heck had another strong showing at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. With opening rounds of 73 and 76, she made the cut and ultimately finished in a tie for 27th.
No. 1 amateur in the world Zhang also posted a high finish at Augusta, overcoming multiple obstacles along the way. After a record-breaking start to her career at Stanford in which she won her first three tournaments, the freshman suffered a fractured toe at a team workout in December.
While she continued to have success in Stanford’s spring season, she is still recovering from the injury. Additionally, Zhang switched caddies after shooting a 76 in her opening round. Despite these challenges, Zhang placed in a tie for 12th in the tournament.
Last year, Krauter qualified for the Augusta National Women’s Amateur but declined the invitation so she could instead compete in the Chevron Championship, an LPGA major. This time around, she accepted the invitation and didn’t take it for granted.
The former All-American was the highest Stanford finisher in the tournament, shooting rounds of 74, 72 and 73 to claim a tie for eighth.
Out of all the strong Stanford performances at Augusta, Walker was most proud of Krauter’s.
“Of course, Aline finishing with three birdies at Augusta National to shoot even par for the day and finish T-8,” Walker wrote in an email to The Daily. “I was proud of her and especially knowing her journey to the [Augusta National Women’s Amateur] over the course of the past four years.”
Junior Brooke Seay didn’t play at Augusta last week, but she joined Krauter on the list of Stanford golfers to play in an LPGA major championship. Seay traveled to Rancho Mirage, Calif., to compete in the Chevron Championship.
The junior held her own against the best golfers in the world, posting 72-70-75-73 to make the cut and earn low amateur honors.
Finally, two more Cardinal golfers — senior Calista Reyes and sophomore Sadie Englemann — competed as individuals away from The Farm in the Silverado Showdown in Napa, Calif.
Battling difficult conditions at Silverado Resort’s North Course, Reyes and Englemann shot 10-over-par and 12-over-par, respectively, for the tournament. Reyes ended in a tie for 38th, while Englemann tied for 49th.
Overall, Walker believes this last week’s individual tournaments will help the team prepare for the playoffs, but it won’t necessarily give them an advantage.
“Playing on the biggest stage always places a high demand on one’s golf game. There is no doubt that experience makes every player better and helps with future championships,” Walker said. “With that being said, many of our competitors also competed in these events, and they too will use it to their advantage. So, in a sense, it is a net neutral impact.”
Next up for the Cardinal are the Pac-12 Championships in Eugene, Ore.
“We are going to face 10 really strong teams and several with multiple wins this season,” Walker said of the upcoming tournament. “We have to be prepared to compete hard, execute our shots under pressure and fight for every shot over the course of three days.”
The first round of the conference tournament is set to begin April 18 at Eugene Country Club.