Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cardinal settles for 4th in the Pac 10 Championship, 5 shots behind USC & Oregon

The challenging par 4 9th hole at Stanford
Stanford lineup for the 52nd Pac 10 Championship being held at Stanford historic golf course includes  Andrew Yun, David Chung, Steve Ziegler, Graham Brockington, Steven Kearney and Cameron Wilson - these 6 players are competing with 5 scores counting each of the 4 rounds.  Results are posted below in reverse order below with the tournament background posted after each of the four round results.

FINAL RESULTS - On a beautiful spring day Stanford fought hard but came up just short of a win on its home course, ending 5 shots behind USC and Oregon and two shots behind UCLA.  David Chung finished with a 1-under 69, despite two closing bogies, in a closing round that bodes well for Stanford's NCAA prospects as David in regular form is a force to contend with.

Andrew Yun finished 4th individually (72-70-66-70) closing with a 70 in a round where he couldn't get putts to fall.  With the tournament decided, he made one of his few bad swings on the 18th tee to finish with a double bogey.  It's been a spectacular year for Andrew, however, one that will certainly earn him All-American honors as Stanford's leading player.  He has a remarkable seven top 5 finishes in the ten tournaments this season.  I was most impressed by Andrew's course demeanor in his final round, displaying poise and positive body language - and he couldn't have been a better gentleman to his playing partner, freshman Martin Trainer of Palo Alto and USC, who won individual honors in the event.

Senior captain Steve Ziegler tied for 11th individually (69-70-70-75) after a 4-over four hole stretch of holes from 6 thru 9 led to a front nine 39 -- he followed with a 36 on the back in a round that may have been affected by Steve's limited play and conditioning recently due to a bad back coming into the tournament.  It was good to see Steve strongly supporting his teammates' good play in front and behind him during the event.

Senior Graham Brockington had his finest hour in his Stanford career finishing tied for 16th overall (70-69-73-73).  After limited appearances in his first three season, this final season has found Graham steadily improving to play his best golf in recent weeks.  In this event, only some struggles at the end of his final two founds kept him from contending with the leaders.

Steven Kearney, an improving sophomore, contributed three solid rounds to the team's efforts (71-75-72-72) to finish tied for 30th individually.  Steven showed a big-time, long-hitting game that was so close to top form only lacking a few putts to fall here and there.  His performance bodes well for Stanford's future.  Freshman Cameron Wilson started slowly in his final round as he went out in 4-over 39 without a birdie, but came through big-time on the back nine with a 33 including clutch birdies on 13, 16 & 17.  No doubt a bright future is ahead for Cameron who has a balanced, fluid swing and great length.

Final round scorecards are included below - click to enlarge:
Final round scorecards - click to enlarge
The NCAA championships lie ahead for the Cardinal and the team is poised to do great things. summarized the final round well below:

STANFORD, Calif. - Playoffs decided both the team and individual titles at the 2011 Pac-10 Men's Golf Championships at Stanford Golf Course as USC defeated Oregon on the first playoff hole to claim the team championship, while USC's Matt Trainer defeated Alex Moore of Oregon State on the seventh playoff hole to win the individual title.
Stanford shot a final round team score of 356 (+6) on Sunday to finish fourth .
Alex Kim of UCLA finished third at 277 (-3) while Stanford's Andrew Yun placed fourth at 278 (-2).
Oregon, which began the day tied with UCLA for third place at +20, shot a final round team score of 345 (-5) to force a playoff with USC, which carded a final round 354 (+4). Daniel Miernicki (67; -3), Jack Dukeminier (67; -3) and Andrew Vijaro (69; -1) led Oregon's final round charge, combining to shoot -8 on the back nine. Vijaro was -4 on the back side alone, collecting an eagle on the par-4 15th hole.
Sam Smith was the only Trojan in red numbers on Sunday, managing a three-under 67, while Trainer shot an even par 70, which included an untimely bogey on the par-5, 16th hole. All told, USC played the back nine at four over par, to slip into a playoff with the Ducks.
After Trainer claimed the individual title in a seven-hole playoff that took 1:45, USC won the six-player, one hole playoff in convincing fashion to earn the team title.
Trainer, a product of Palo Alto's Gunn High School, pared the seventh playoff hole to claim the individual title over Moore. After the two players matched pars six times on the 18th hole, Moore drove into the right rough and was forced to chip out. His third shot landed 25 feet right of the hole and his attempt to save par came up inches short. After hitting a perfect drive, Trainer's second shot to a back pin location came up some 40 feet short, but the sophomore was able to salvage par to claim the conference's individual title.
Stanford entered the final round in second place at +14, three strokes behind USC. However, the Cardinal was +6 on its final round, with only one player managing to come in under par.
Yun, who was paired with USC's Trainer on Sunday, was -2 on his round before making a double bogey on the par-4, 18th hole to finish at even par 70. It marked his seventh top-5 finish in 10 events this season.
Senior Steve Ziegler tied for 11th at 285 (+5), shooting a final round 75 that included three bogeys, one double bogey and no birdies.
Graham Brockington tied for 16th at 285 (+5) after a final round 73. He was even par on his round through 13 holes but bogeyed three of the last five holes to finish three over for the day.
Steve Kearney tied for 30th at 290 (+10) after carding a final round 72 on Sunday. He was even par through his first nine holes but picked up bogeys on holes No. 12 and 18.
Freshman Cameron Wilson tied for 42nd at 295 (+15), closing with a final round 72. After playing his first nine holes at +4, Wilson picked up three birdies on the back nine to finish with a 72.
Junior David Chung finished 44th at 296 (+16) after shooting a final round 69, the only Cardinal under par on Sunday. Chung was -3 on his round before making bogeys on his final two holes of the day. He played his last 45 holes of the tournament at two under par.
Stanford will wait to hear on its draw for NCAA Regional play, which gets underway on May 19 at a site to be determined. 

Andrew Yun 3rd round - click to enlarge
ROUND THREE - Stanford has climbed up the leader board into 2nd place after three rounds, 3 shots behind USC.  Three Cardinal golfers have moved into the top 10 individually led by Andrew Yun who is tied for 3rd at 2-under, 208 total (72-70-66), after a solid 66 in round three that included 5 birdies and only 1 bogey.  Steve Ziegler continued his consistent play with an even par 70 that included two birdies and two bogeys and is tied for 5th overall with rounds of 69-70-70. Graham Brockington is at 212 total (70-69-73) tying for 9th overall despite a closing bogey-double bogey finish.  Stanford article with photo gallery.  The photo at the left of Andrew Yun is courtesy of Dave Elkinson.

David Chung fought back from a bogey-bogey start to post a 1-over 71 in a round that included11 straight pars followed by two birdies, two more pars and a bogey finish.  Steven Kearney posted a 2-over 72 in his third round as he birdied two of his last four holes - he's tied for 28th overall at 228 (71-75-72).  Cameron Wilson stands at 223 total, in 45th individually carding rounds of 72-75-76.  Scorecards from round 3 are below - click to enlarge:
Round 3 scorecards - click to enlarge

ROUND TWO - The 2nd round was played on day 1 again under tough, windy conditions.  It's a wide open tournament with two rounds left to play.  Stanford remains in 3rd place three shots behind USC and one behind Oregon with UCLA a shot behind Stanford in 4th.  Seniors Brockington and Ziegler again led the way with 69 & 70 respectively and are tied for 4th individually at 1 under 139 totals.  Sophomore Andrew Yun had a solid even par 70 and is tied for 14th individually at 142.  

Junior David Chung turned around a tough start with a solid 2-under 33 on the back nine to post a 74 while Steven Kearney and Cameron Wilson both carded 75s. Scorecards for round 2 and 1 can be found below:
Round 2 scorecards - click to enlarge

Playing on a cool, sunny and very windy day Stanford finished round 1 in 3rd place 3 shots behind Oregon and 1 shot behind UCLA.  It was a struggle early as Oregon shot out to a large lead over the front nine and Stanford came on strongly to close the gap.

Two seniors led the way, with both struggling early and coming on fast with very strong finishes.  Steve Ziegler 1-under 69 had him 3 over par after 5 holes and finishing with four birdies and no bogies thereafter.  Graham Brockington also finished strong with four birdies starting on 13 after going 4 over through 12 holes.

Sophomore Steven Kearney played steadily throughout with nines of 36-35 on his way to a solid 1-over 71 while Andrew Yun and Cameron Wilson carded 2 over 72 scores.  David Chung struggled to an 82 marred by a triple and two double bogies.  Round one scorecards are below - click to enlarge.
Round 1 scorecards - click to enlarge

No included in the lineup was senior Sihwan Kim, again due to concerns of aggravating his back.  Coach Phil Rowe shares that "the obvious omission is Sihwan. In the end it was a decision that was taken to eliminate any risk that sihwan might aggravate his back on a long 36 hole day. NCAA regionals and nationals are 1 round per day and we want to be absolutely sure that he is able to come through the entire post season."

Here are some useful links for the tournament:  Tee times & Pairings | |  Official Pac 10 site | Real Time Scoring | Stanford Golf Course website | announcement.

UCLA is the team to beat based on the national rankings by Golf Week shown below.    In those same rankings, sophomore Andrew Yun is the ranked 2nd nationally just ahead of UCLA freshman Cantlay.  Stanford is looking for strong support from past All-Americans David Chung and Steve Ziegler who have shown signs of returning to form that had each all Pac 10 performers. 

California 18
Stanford 20
USC 21
Oregon 22
ASU 27
Washington 30
OSU 48
Arizona 64
WSU 89

Head coach Conrad Ray shares his view on the event: 
"The fact that we are playing on our home course lends itself to having six guys playing with the mentality that they can win the golf tournament," he said. "With the six, count five format, you really need to rely on the depth of your team. I've felt good about our depth one through 10 all season.  We'd all like to see Andrew continue his excellent form this weekend," said Ray. "He's established himself as one of the premier players in the country."

The Cardinal is also counting heavily on Chung, who played in the Masters earlier this month as the U.S. Amateur runner-up, but has just one top-10 finish this season.

"David is eager to get out there," said Ray. "He's worked through some scheduling challenges that comes with playing in the Masters and is feeling really good about his game right now."

Ziegler and Brockington both have Pac-10 Championship experience, while Kearney and Wilson will be making their conference debuts.

"We definitely need production across the board, especially since we are playing six guys," said Ray. "In our strong tournaments this season, we've had multiple guys in the hunt.

On the other side, we've had our tournaments where only one or two guys play well and the rest of the team struggles."

While ending a 16-year title drought remains the ultimate goal, Ray has also stressed to his team the importance of building up some momentum with NCAA Regional play rapidly approaching.

"To be able to call yourself the champion of the Pac-10 Conference is a great accomplishment and motivation in of itself," said Ray. "But we also realize what is ahead of us. This weekend would be a great time to start building some momentum."

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