May 8, 2016
A back-and-forth final hole between senior Mariah Stackhouse and USC’s Tiffany Chan ultimately caused No. 12 Stanford women’s golf to tie with the No. 2 Trojans for first in the NCAA Stanford Regional Championship at the Stanford Golf Course on Saturday.
Stackhouse and Chan both missed potential match-winning putts to put the teams level at 4-over at the end of the three-day, 18-school event. These results were good enough to qualify both squads for the NCAA Championships, which features the top six finishers from four different regional tournaments.
In a week that had seen the Trojans and the Cardinal locked in a two-way battle for the top spot almost from the beginning, both teams seemed satisfied to have earned a share of the title. USC managed to maintain its streak of perfection in its recent qualifiers, while Stanford proved yet again that it is a talented team that can threaten opponents above its rank.
“We’re really excited to have played well this week,” said Stackhouse after the event. “I think USC was gunning for their seventh straight regional championship, and so for us to have tied them and be sharing the title [with them] is a pretty big deal. They’re always a great team but we played toe-to-toe with them.”
Stackhouse finished the event in a tie for sixth place overall, at 1-under. She and junior Casey Danielson (-2) set the pace for the Cardinal for the duration of the tournament, ensuring the team would have a chance to defend its national title at the Eugene Country Club later this month.
Senior Lauren Kim, the seventh-ranked individual in the country, also provided a much-needed boost for Stanford, particularly on the final day of play. Kim struggled a bit in the opening rounds by going 5-over on the first day and 1-over on the second, but she finally caught fire on Saturday’s front nine to surge up into 14th place and provide some insurance for the remainder of the lineup.
“You always hope that it’s your week [at regionals], but golf’s a funny sport and sometimes things just don’t go your way,” said head coach Anne Walker after the event. “To be at home and also play great was really thrilling.”
USC opened the event in a narrow lead, posting a 287 on Thursday to put the Trojans two strokes ahead of the Cardinal. Stanford responded on Friday with a tournament-low 4-under 280 to take a two-stroke lead of their own, which it managed to maintain through the midway point on Saturday.
The Cardinal couldn’t completely hold on against the consistency of the Trojans, however, and bogeys by Kim on 10 and 12 and by freshman Sierra Kersten on 10 and 18 briefly swung USC back in front. Birdies from Danielson on 16 and 17 kept Stanford in the running until Stackhouse’s one-stroke victory over Chan on 18 brought the teams back to level terms.
For the team’s seniors, Stackhouse and Kim, the event provided one final chance to play in front of a friendly home crowd. The two former All-Americans were instrumental in Stanford’s championship run last season, and both got the chance to take a bit of a victory bow by navigating the team back to the championship in front of their families and fans.
“I definitely treated this day as an opportunity to embrace the career that I’ve had here at Stanford,” Stackhouse reflected. “It’s been a pretty good one — it has had its ups and downs, but I’ve had a blast the whole time. It was fun to come out, have a good tournament this week and give it one last go on my home turf.”
The Cardinal will tee off in the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Friday, May 20.
Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu.