Following an undefeated fall, No. 1 Stanford women’s golf suffered its first loss of the season on Tuesday at the Therese Hessian Regional Challenge, hosted by the Palos Verdes Golf Club in Palos Verdes, Calif.
The par-71 course proved challenging, with an average score of 74.51 per round and only four players finishing under par over the three rounds. Although they had the 36-hole lead, the Cardinal could not hold on to it, taking second place with a tournament score of 11-over, five strokes behind the eventual champions, No. 5 Oregon.
The field was packed with top-25 competitors. Along with the fifth-ranked Ducks, Stanford’s opponents included No 3. San Jose State, No. 8 Texas, No. 13 Arizona, No. 16 SMU, No. 19 USC, No. 22 UCLA and No. 24 Baylor. Competing for the Cardinal were senior Angelina Ye, junior Sadie Englemann, sophomore Rose Zhang and freshmen Megha Ganne and Kelly Xu. Notably absent from the lineup were two members of the 2022 National Championship team: All-American senior Brooke Seay and 2021 individual national champion, junior Rachel Heck.
Stanford finished the first day tied for second, four strokes off Baylor’s lead. Zhang led the Cardinal with a 3-under, placing her two strokes behind the leader. Her six birdies tied for the most in the first round. Ganne also had a strong performance at 1-under, which put her just inside the top 10. Englemann and Xu both carded 3-over 74s, and Ye shot 76. The team was tied for first for the most birdies on the round, showing Stanford’s promise on a difficult course.
On day two, the Cardinal found their groove, especially on the back nine. The team was even on the day and 5-under on the back. Again, Zhang led Stanford at 3-under, giving her the solo lead while Ganne carded a 1-under, moving her into a tie for fifth. Xu shot even par, putting her into the top 20. Englemann and Ye both carded 75s. With strong performances, the Cardinal propelled themselves to the solo lead, two strokes clear of San Jose State.
With only a few holes left on the third day, it looked like Stanford would secure the victory. However, over the last three holes, the team shot a combined 12-over, providing a huge opening for the Ducks, who shot 4-under on the day. Ultimately, the Cardinal could not recover, finishing 9-over on the day to take second with a tournament total of 11-over.
Zhang, who shot par on the final day, secured her eighth individual victory and fourth victory this season. This win propels Zhang to second all-time in Stanford’s history, tied with teammate Heck and Mhairi McKay ‘97. She is now one win behind Andrea Lee’s ‘20 record, and with her success so far this season, it seems likely that she will surpass the marker by the end of the year.
Ganne finished the final day 2-over and the tournament tied for fifth — her third top-10 finish on the season. Engelmann also finished the day 2-over, tying teammate Xu, who carded a 77 on the final day for 37th place in the tournament. Ye shot 76 on the third day and finished the tournament tied for 59th.
The Cardinal continue their season next week against San Jose State in the Battle of the Bay, which will take place on Feb. 21 in San Martin, Calif.