Cardinal finish third and sixth at Stephens Cup

Oct. 13, 2023, 2:04 a.m.

Coming off a close 3-4 loss at Big Match, No. 1 Stanford women’s golf and Stanford men’s golf continued their fall season at the Jackson T. Stephens Cup hosted at Trinity Forest Golf Club in Dallas. While there were strong individual showings for the women, Stanford was unable to defend its title, finishing third. The men had strong performances in rounds one and three but struggled in round two, which ultimately led to a sixth-place finish.

Playing for the Cardinal on the women’s side were senior Sadie Englemann, junior Caroline Sturdza, sophomores Megha Ganne and Kelly Xu and freshman Paula Martín Sampedro. Notably missing from the lineup were senior Rachel Heck and fifth-year Brooke Seay, two stalwarts of the team. In the lineup for the men were fifth-year Barclay Brown, seniors Karl Vilips and Jake Beber-Frankel and freshmen Ethan Gao and Kush Arora. Missing from the lineup was senior standout Michael Thorbjorsen, who announced in August that he was recovering from a stress fracture in his back. 

In the first round, Xu set the pace for the women with five birdies on her front nine. She cooled off on her back nine with three bogeys but finished the day tied for fifth. Martín Sampedro, who placed second at her collegiate debut last month, found her stride on the back half, finishing the day tied with Xu for fifth. Also off a strong finish, Sturdza finished the day one under. Englemann was even on the round, and Ganne was one over. Stanford finished the round in third, just four strokes behind the leader, South Carolina.

On the men’s side, the freshmen led the way for the Cardinal. Gao and Arora both had seven birdies in their rounds. Gao finished the day tied for second at six under; Arora, who found a little more trouble, finished three under. Vilips was also rock-solid throughout the day, finishing one behind Gao and tied for seventh. Brown shot a one-under 71 and Beber-Frankel carded a one-over 73. Like the women, the Cardinal men also finished the round in third, just four strokes back of the leader, LSU.

Determined to make up ground, the women came out of the gates swinging in round two. Ganne and Xu set the pace for Stanford with three birdies each in the first five holes. Martín Sampedro continued her momentum from round one, looking unphased by the transition to collegiate golf. The round was suspended due to darkness, but in the morning, Ganne, Martín Sampedro and Xu all finished three under. Engelmann finished one-over and Sturdza shot 77. The Cardinal were able to pass Wake Forest and South Carolina, but a red-hot Texas jumped to the top of the leaderboard, leaving Stanford three strokes behind in second place.

On the other hand, the men failed to carry their strong start into round two. Gao gave back all of his strokes on the round, going seven over on the back with tough back-to-back doubles. Vilips also struggled on the back with three bogies, finishing with a 75. Arora continued his birdie barrage, with another seven in his round: he finished three under. Following an eagle on hole two, Beber-Frankel found his stride and finished two under on his round. Brown carded an even 72. The Cardinal finished two under on the day, the worst round of the field, leaving them in sixth place and eighteen strokes behind the leader, Florida State.

On the final day, the women just needed to maintain their second-place position in order to make the championship match. At the start, it looked like they might even win stroke play. Everyone finished even or under par on the front nine. Martín Sampedro led the charge with five birdies and took the lead in the tournament. Starting the day with three consecutive birdies, Englemann also had her best stretch of the tournament. 

At the turn, defending national champions Wake Forest mounted a comeback with twelve birdies on the back and players finishing two under, three under and even five under on the day. Meanwhile, the Cardinal slowed down: with only two birdies on the back combined, the Cardinal could not stave off Wake Forest, and they finished stroke play in third. Instead of defending their title, the Cardinal were in the third-place match against South Carolina. 

Individually, the Cardinal placed well in stroke play. Martín Sampedro tied for fourth, continuing her strong collegiate debut — her second top-four finish of the season. Xu placed sixth, her best finish of the season. Englemann tied for tenth, which was also her best finish of the season. Ganne was tied for 12th and Sturdza was tied for 31st.

In the men’s final round, Stanford regained its energy, but it was not enough for the Cardinal to make up the nine strokes they needed to make match play. Beber-Frankel led Stanford with a collegiate-best six under. Gao shook off his rough finish from round two with an eagle on the first hole. He carried that momentum to a five under on the round. After an early double, Vilips fought back for a strong 70 and Brown continued his consistent play with another 72. Arora slowed down a bit and carded a 73. 

With a combined 12 under, the Cardinal were unable to make up any ground, ultimately finishing in sixth. Beber-Frankel’s career-best six under for the tournament gave him a T-17 finish. The freshman duo of Gao and Arora tied for nineteenth. Vilips finished tied for 24th and Brown finished tied for 31st.

Not making the championship match, the women were determined to finish the tournament with a win. Looking for redemption, Sturdza set the tone for the Cardinal. She won the opening hole and never looked back, winning her match 2&1. Xu followed suit: after winning the seventh hole, she never gave up her lead, winning her match 4&3. Stanford needed just one more point to secure its victory. In the middle match, Englemann fell one down after the third hole and was unable to recover. Never winning a hole, she lost the match 6&4. 

Still looking for the final point, it came down to Ganne and Martín Sampedro. While they both had strong momentum starting the back nine, South Carolina would not go down without a fight. South Carolina’s Maylis Lamoure tied her match with Ganne on the fourteenth hole and Sandtorv Lussand fought back to just one back of Martín Sampedro on hole 15. Needing to win just one match, the Cardinal were able to score both points thanks to victories on the 16th and 17th holes by Ganne and Martín Sampedro respectively. Stanford defeated South Carolina 4-1 to place third in the tournament.

In the championship match, Wake Forest defeated Texas 3-2 to win the Stephens Cup.

Both Stanford teams continue their fall season this month. The women return to the course at their home tournament, the Stanford Intercollegiate. The first round begins Friday, October 20th at the Stanford Golf Course. The men continue their fall season a week later with the Cypress Point Classic in Pebble Beach, Calif. Their first round begins Monday, Oct. 30.

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