Stanford's Maverick McNealy moves within one win of school record with Western Intercollegiate victory

Maverick McNealy wins Western Intercollegiate

Stanford's Maverick McNealy moves within one win of school record with Western Intercollegiate victory

Men

Stanford's Maverick McNealy moves within one win of school record with Western Intercollegiate victory

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Just how good was Maverick McNealy this week at the Transamerica/WFG Western Intercollegiate? Consider this: runner-up Aaron Wise’s 14-under 196 total at Pasatiempo Golf Club would have been a tournament record, yet Wise lost by two strokes to McNealy.

McNealy, a junior from Portola Valley, Calif., displayed Wednesday why he was college golf’s player of the year last season.

Trailing Oregon’s Wise by one shot entering the final round, McNealy played hole Nos. 6-10 in 5 under to pull ahead. He wrapped up a 6-under 64 and 16-under 194 total for his 10th collegiate victory.

McNealy went so far as to call this latest victory one of his best.

“Of the 10, this was the toughest,” McNealy said. “I played lights out, and I still had my back against the wall.”

Going head-to-head against one of college golf’s best players in Wise is difficult enough, but add the fact that this duel was taking place on one of the hardest venues in college golf.

“Out here having to keep putting birdies up on the board to stay ahead is very difficult,” McNealy said. “There is a 110 percent chance in about an hour I am going to have a massive headache. There is potential for disaster on every shot.”

McNealy and Wise separated themselves from the field. Washington’s Corey Pereira finished third, 11 shots behind Wise.

McNealy and Wise have developed a bit of a quiet rivalry. Earlier this year in Hawaii, Wise birdied his final three holes to finish ahead of McNealy. This week, McNealy proved to be the better player.

“I didn’t want let him to get away with a second one after Hawaii,” McNealy said.

Wise, a sophomore from Lake Elsinore, Calif., acknowledged the competition between the two.

“It’s what you look forward to as a golfer,” Wise said. “Mavs made the putts he needed to make and got it done.”

McNealy has much respect for Wise.

“What I really respect about Aaron is he is competitive in a very nice way,” McNealy said. “That is something I strive to be. Wanting like nothing else to beat the guy but still treating him with respect and enjoying his company and being a fun guy to be around, which is exactly what he does. I really admire how hard he has worked and how his game has come along in the last year and half.”

McNealy climbs to within one victory of the school record, shared by Tiger Woods and Patrick Rodgers.

“He is in some rare air for us,” Stanford coach Conrad Ray said.

McNealy is fully aware of where he now sits on the Stanford all-time victory chart.

“It would be cool to win 11 times in two years, which is what Tiger did. And 11 times by my junior year, which is what Patrick did. Obviously that is something I think about but not really much I can do about it other than focus on the next shot and work as hard as I possibly can,” McNealy said.

 

The individual title helped Stanford, No. 9 in the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings, post its first team victory of the year. The Cardinal shot 9-under 1,041 in the play-six-count-five format. USC finished second at 1,051. Oregon, which led after Round 1, placed third at 1,059, followed by California (1,062) and Pepperdine (1,065).

Stanford had not won since claiming the Pac-12 Conference Championship last year.

“Big momentum for our team,” Ray said. “I have been pushing the guys pretty hard the last three weeks, and they have gotten sick of me a little bit. I know we have a really good team and have not had much to hang our hat on.”

Stanford will seek a third consecutive conference title when the Pac-12 tournament is played April 29-May at The Country Club in Salt Lake City. For McNealy, performances such as this week’s triumph at Pasatiempo may see him topping that school-victory list before the end of this year.

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