NCAA Championship: Overlooked Stanford in prime position to get back to match play

Stanford Men's Golf

NCAA Championship: Overlooked Stanford in prime position to get back to match play

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NCAA Championship: Overlooked Stanford in prime position to get back to match play

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Stanford men’s golf have been white hot down the stretch this season, and that momentum has carried all the way to Blessings Golf Club.

After the first two rounds of the 2019 NCAA Div. I Men’s Golf Championship the Cardinal sit in second place at 2-over par. Defending champion Oklahoma State hold a commanding 12-shot lead after an impressive performance on Saturday morning.

“Oklahoma State, it’s the big elephant in the room, they’re great. I kind of like the position we’re at because no one’s really talking about Stanford golf, which I think our guys take personally,” said Stanford head coach Conrad Ray.

“We haven’t really been picked that much or talked about … I think we can go surprise some people, hopefully play well the next couple days and have a chance in match play.”

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And that’s where things get interesting.

Despite success in the regular season over the last 10 years since the NCAAs move to match play for the championship, Stanford has advanced from stroke play just twice, with a 1-2 record. In fact, the Cardinal haven’t made the 54-hole cut to 15 teams the last four years. The last time Stanford made it to match play, they won the stroke play segment and lost in the semifinals in 2014. The only other match play appearance was in 2010, where they lost in the quarterfinals.

That said, things appear to be different this year for Stanford.

The Cardinal have won their last four events, including a seven-shot victory at the Pac-12 Championship and a 12-shot regional win, which they hosted at their home course, The Goodwin.

“We’ve worked really hard. I tell people this is the hardest we’ve worked in my time at Stanford,” said Ray, noting how the team’s confidence has continued to build thanks to great practice and a new workout. “You just hope that you can make the putts when you need to and all that preparation pays off.”

Ray loves how this year’s Stanford team features a lineup where everyone contributes and no single player is overly flashy. He event went as far to make a loose comparison to his 2007 team that won the National Championship.

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“I just feel like our guys have gotten a lot of confidence out of playing solid and it means a lot when you can have your four and five guy kick in on a regular basis,” Ray said while praising the senior leadership of Isaiah Salinda and Brandon Wu. “It’s been a team effort. Our group over the last few years, we were a little more top heavy than we were this year.”

So far at the NCAA Championship, Salinda has produced the most for Stanford, currently sitting at 4-under par and inside the top five on the individual leaderboard. Junior Henry Shimp has also stepped up for the Cardinal, boasting a 2-under par 36-hole score of 172.

“It’s helped (the seniors’) games a lot knowing they’ve got guys down the lineup who can post some scores,” added Ray.

Sunday’s third round starts at 7:50 a.m. ET.

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