Thursday, May 25, 2017

Stanford competes in the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms

The 30-team field - click to enlarge
Round 3 Results:
SUGAR GROVE, Ill. - The careers of two of the finest student-athletes to play for the Stanford men's golf program came to a close Sunday after the third round of the NCAA Championships.

Seniors Maverick McNealy and Viraat Badhwar, who represented Stanford with class on and off the course, sank their final putts in a Cardinal uniform and tipped their caps to the crowd on the 18th green at Rich Harvest Farms. The pair helped lead Stanford to three Pac-12 tournament titles and four NCAA appearances over the past four seasons.

McNealy, this year's Ben Hogan Award winner who leaves Stanford tied for the program record with 11 career wins, posted rounds of 76-71-74 to finish tied for 76th at 5-over on the par-72 track. His final 18 holes included four birdies.

Badhwar (73-73-74) tied for 71st at 4-over and rolled in an eight-footer for birdie on his final hole.

Fourth-seeded Stanford (293-287-299) missed out on the 15-team cut and a chance to advance to Monday's final round of stroke play by eight shots. The Cardinal placed 20th and was 15-over through 54 holes of play.

"We fought hard and we were in the mix today," said Conrad Ray, Stanford's Knowles Family Director of Men's Golf. "We got off to a decent start, but we hit it into some bad spots when the wind got tough out there.

"Maverick and Viraat have been amazing role models and a pleasure to coach. They're student-athletes through and through, and they've definitely left their marks on our program." posted an excellent wrap up with comments from McNealy and Coach Ray:
“Disappointing round, disappointing finish,” said McNealy, whose third-round, 2-over 74 put the finishing touches on a 5-over performance for the week. (Stanford finishes at 15 over, eight back of UCF for the final team spot in Monday’s final round of stroke play.)
“… I couldn’t have imagined a better four years. Very mixed emotions. I’m sad it’s all over, but excited for whatever comes next.”
McNealy, 21, has a bright future in which ever route he chooses to take: pro golf or the business world. The decision hasn’t been made yet, but McNealy says he’s getting closer. For now, he’ll take a couple of days off before returning to practice. He’ll play in the Palmer Cup next month before teeing it up in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
“I’m right back into practicing, and need to work on the putting and get that going in the right direction,” said McNealy, who said he lost six shots on the greens the first two rounds. “I’m hitting it great. I think my game is trending in the right direction. This was really my first setback in the last couple of months, based on how my game is going.
“… I want to play again. I want more reps. I want to put some good tournaments together and hit some good shots when I need to, and I think that will build on itself.”
“We had a great team this year,” Ray said. “Obviously at the NCAAs, you’ve got to bring it when it really matters under the bright lights, and our guys didn’t have their best stuff this week.
“… I do think the nature of the guys we have, they’re really analytical, really bright, really smart guys, they work hard, and I think that sometimes there’s a little bit of going down the double-black diamond at NCAAs, and you’ve got to kind of let it go and not control it so much.”
Stanford's highest finisher was Isaiah Salinda, who made most of his NCAA debut. Salinda (71-71-74) tied for 44th, and followed a double-bogey on 17 with a 55-foot birdie putt on the 18th to put the finishing touches on his sophomore season.

Franklin Huang (74-73-77) was 8-over and tied for 104th. Brandon Wu (75-72-81) was 12-over for the tournament and tied for 125th.

Stanford finished the season with two team wins, including a share of the title at the NCAA Regional Championships contested at Stanford Golf Course. 

Round 3 team results are shown below - click on image to enlarge.
Round three Team results - click on image to enlarge

Round Two Results:
The team totals through two rounds are shown below - click on the image to enlarge.
Team standings are two rounds - click to enlarge
Stanford faces an uphill climb to move on to match play (top 8 teams) as it's tied for 16th, 18 strokes behind leading UNLV and 12 strokes behind the top 8 teams.  To make the 54-hole cut Stanford needs to move into the top 15 teams.

After arriving at the course at 4:30 a.m. local time to finish its first round, the Cardinal turned right back around and grinded out another 18.

"I'm happy our guys hung in there," said Conrad Ray, Stanford's Knowles Family Director of Men's Golf. "It was tough sledding this morning with the early wakeup call. We had to play the last four holes on the course, which have been some of the toughest for the field.

"Our guys didn't give up, and I was proud of them for that."

The morning conditions made for long and wet rough, which gave the Cardinal a touch of trouble while completing its first round.

Stanford started its second round on the back nine, posting bogey or worse on 14 occasions between the five competing student-athletes. The final nine holes were nearly flawless, with seven birdies countered by only bogey.

Leading the way with solid play for the Cardinal at 2-under par is Isaiah Salinda  (71-71 142 T28) followed by Viraat Badhwar  at 2-over par (73-73 146 T75.  The season's top three players all are tied for 80th position  at 3-over par as Maverick McNealy shot 76-71 147, Franklin Huang shot 74-73 147 and Brandon Wu shot 75-72 147.

The individual leader from Texas is Scottie Sheffler at 8-under par on rounds of 68-68 136.

The following weather forecast for round three calls for blustery conditions and possible thunderstorms Sunday morning - Partly to mostly cloudy skies with scattered thunderstorms in the morning. High near 75F. Winds NW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

Round One Results (partial)
The course conditions were less than ideal at Rich Harvest Farms when the Stanford men's golf team opened the stroke play portion of the NCAA Championships on Friday. Battling an extended weather delay and steady drizzles, Stanford was unable to complete its first round.

With all five student-athletes still yet to play the final few holes, Stanford is tied for 17th with Arizona State at 2-over.

Clubhouse leader Vanderbilt is 8-under.

Before play was suspended due to darkness, a pair of delays totaled three hours and one minute, resulting in half the field being unable to complete their opening round.

Viraat Badhwar and Isaiah Salinda are tied for 41st at even-par through 16 holes. Brandon Wu is 1-over through 16 and Franklin Huang is 1-over through 15. Wu birdied two of his final three holes before play was stalled.

Maverick McNealy is 3-over through 14 holes.

Auburn posted the low round of the day among the morning wave of 15 teams, recording a 6-under 282. Ole Miss and Alabama are tied for the second-best round of the morning as the Rebels and Crimson Tide each posted a 1-under 287.

Braden Thornberry of Ole Miss is the leader in the clubhouse after carding a 6-under 66. Thornberry, who recorded six birdies and no bogies in his round, tied the course collegiate record set by Zach Seabolt of Winthrop in the first round of the 2014 Northern Intercollegiate and Thomas Detry of Illinois in the second round of the 2015 Northern Intercollegiate.

First-round play will resume Saturday morning at 4:30 a.m. PT, followed by second-round play beginning at 5:15 a.m.

Stanford sends out the following players to compete in the NCAA Championship - Maverick McNealy, Franklin Huang, Brandon Wu, Isaiah Salinda and Viraat Badhwar.

Fourth-seeded Stanford will make its fourth straight appearance at the NCAA Men's Golf Championships when it tees off at Rich Harvest Farms on Friday. The Cardinal enters the tournament after winning the NCAA Stanford Regional (May 15-17) at Stanford Golf Course.

On Wednesday, the top-ranked Stanford women’s golf team was eliminated in the semifinals of match play on the same course.
“It’s fun to watch the girls, cheer them on and imagine being in that position a week from now,” Ray said on Tuesday. “But there’s a lot of golf that needs to go on — and good golf, that is — between now and then.”
McNealy played at Rich Harvest Farms in the 2015 Palmer Cup, helping a collection of American college golfers defeat their European counterparts.
“It’s very challenging,” McNealy said of the links course. “When we played there, the rough was really thick. You need to hit the fairways. There’s some incredibly tight tee shots and it seems like there’s such a variety in terms of the type of hole that you get, that it tests all parts of your game.”
“I think it’s just all about hitting good golf shots,” Ray said. “It is a ball striker’s course. You have to manage your golf ball well and keep it out of the rough. Avoid big numbers, which I think are lurking if you hit the tee ball off line. So I think it’s really more about just strategy and management.”
* The Cardinal has won eight NCAA titles, the most recent earned in 2007.

* Conrad Ray, the Knowles Family Director of Men's Golf, is taking his team to its 10th appearance in the NCAA Championships in 13 years at the helm.

The Format
* Finals play consists of three days of stroke play from May 26-28, after which the top 15 teams and nine individuals not on an advancing team will be determined. That is followed by a final day of 18 holes of stroke play on May 29 to determine the top eight teams that will advance to match play, as well as the 72-hole individual champion. The team national champion will be determined by a match-play format that will consist of quarterfinals and semifinals conducted May 30, followed by finals on May 31.

The Field
* This season's field includes 30 teams and six individuals. USC is the top-seeded team, followed by Oklahoma State, Vanderbilt and Stanford. Four Pac-12 teams are competing including Oregon and ASU.

The Host
* Northern Illinois will serve as the host school for the NCAA Championships, with the event being contested at Rich Harvest Farms.

The Course
* Jerry and Betty Rich's dream began to develop when their amassed farms, a 1,820-acre showcase of nature and agriculture, gave way to one golf hole and a practice area. Then three holes. Then six. After interviewing five architects, Jerry discovered he could draw the plans himself -- and did. He even hired a construction company that had never before built a golf course. Though influenced by Augusta National and the encouragement of friends Bob Murphy and Sam Snead, Jerry also took inspiration from Dick Wilson's Pine Tree in Florida. In 1987, Jerry began the development of Rich Harvest Farms, and 10 years later, all 18 holes were completed.

* The course plays through wooded hillsides and open fields, making use of the natural streams and wetlands. Maintained natural areas and over 100 bunkers add strategic value and visual appeal. Rich
Harvest Farms offers some of the country's most challenging and unique golf holes. It was rated fifth-best new private golf course by Golf Digest in 1997 and now is consistently ranked in Golf Digest's America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses. 

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