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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stanford women, Oklahoma State men have statement wins

   While I was focusing on the Westbrook Spring Invitational and the Hurricane Invitational earlier this week -- with some strong showings from some of the standout female players from the Philadelphia area at both venues -- some of the powerhouse programs, both women and men, were teeing it up in a couple of events that set the stage for an exciting spring of college golf.
   The Bruin Wave Invitational, which concluded Tuesday, featured the No. 1 women's team in the latest Golfstat rankings in Stanford and the Cardinal’s two chief Pac-12 rivals, No. 9 UCLA and No. 2 Southern California. When the smoke cleared at last year’s NCAA Championship and the seedings were set for the last eight match-play combatants, it was UCLA, Stanford and Southern Cal, in that order.
   A veteran Stanford team had been laying in the weeds a little earlier in the spring a year ago, but the defending champion Cardinal got back to the final before falling to yet another Pac-12 entry, Washington, 3-2, in an epic final. But don’t be surprised if all three programs are still standing again when it gets down to match play at this year’s NCAA Championship.
   Stanford validated its No. 1 ranking with a one-shot victory over the No. 9 Bruins at San Luis Obispo Country Club in San Luis Obispo, Calif. with the No. 2 Trojans another 10 shots back of UCLA in third.
   The 6,387-yard, par-73 San Luis Obispo layout appears to have played very tough and there might have been some tough conditions on the first day. Teams were scheduled to play a double round Monday, but darkness set in before most teams completed 36 holes, so Tuesday turned into a round-and-a-half in a lot of cases.
   The Cardinal got the jump on the field with what turned out to be the best team round of the tournament, a 1-over 293 in the opening round. Stanford added rounds of 304 and 305 for a 26-over 902 total.
   UCLA closed with the only other sub-300 round of the tournament, a 6-over 298 in the final round and came up a shot short of the Cardinal at 903. Southern Cal, with rounds of 300, 307 and 304, finished third at 37-over 913.
   UCLA lost 2016 Annika Award winner Bronte Law to the LPGA since the fall portion of the schedule, but the Bruins still appear loaded. They had the individual champion in the Bruin Wave in Lilia Vu, a sophomore from Fountain Valley, Calif. Vu had rounds of 70, 74 and 75 to finish at even-par 219, one shot better than Cal State-Fullerton’s Martin Edberg, a senior from Sweden who closed with a 1-over 74 to finish at 1-over 220.
   Stanford had two of the three players tied for third at 4-over 223 in Casey Danielson, a senior from Osceola, Wis. who has been right in the middle of the Cardinal’s stirring postseason runs of the last two springs, and talented newcomer Albane Valenzuela, a freshman from Switzerland who was one of the top amateur players in Europe before heading to northern California. Danielson had rounds of 72, 76 and 75 while Valenzuela started strong with a 3-under 70 before finishing up with rounds of 77 and 76.
   The third player in the tie for third was UCLA’s Mariel Galdiano, a freshman from Pearl City, Hawaii who played on the losing United States team in the 2016 Curtis Cup Match and was the qualifying medalist in the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club. Galdiano had rounds of 73, 76 and 74 to reach 223.
   UCLA sent another freshman, Clare Legaspi of the Philippines, out to compete as an individual and all she did was match par in the final round with a 73 to finish alone in sixth at 224, just a shot behind the trio tied for third.
   Stanford also got a tie for 11th out of Andrea Lee, its talented freshman from Hermosa Beach, Calif. Like Galdiano, Lee was a U.S. Curtis Cupper a year ago. She lost in the final of the U.S. Girls’ Junior and in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green. Lee had rounds of 76, 74 and 76 for a 226 total.
   Madeline Chou, a freshman from Santa Ana, Calif., finished tied for 20th at 232 with a final-round 80. And Shannon Aubert, a junior from Stuart, Fla., was another shot back in a tie for 22nd at 233. Aubert grinded out a final-round 78 that had a lot to do with the Cardinal’s one-shot margin of victory.
   It looks like the weather was a little better for the Querencia Cabo Collegiate, which also concluded Tuesday in Querencia, Mexico and the Oklahoma State men, No. 10 in the latest Golfstat rankings, put on a dazzling show in a 10-shot victory.
   I’m going to guess that the 6,928-yard, par-71 Querencia Golf Club layout isn’t the toughest the cream of men’s collegiate golf will face this spring, but nonetheless it was a spectacular performance by the Cowboys as they opened with an 11-under 273 Sunday, fell back with a 5-under 279 in Monday’s middle round and then finished with a flourish, a closing 13-under 271 for a 29-under 823 total.
   No. 11 Baylor wasn’t shabby itself as all five Bears in the lineup broke 70 in a final round of 15-under 269 that left them 10 shots behind Oklahoma State, but certainly making no apologies for a 19-under 833 total.
   It was a strong showing for both No. 46 and No. 18 Wake Forest, which shared third at 7-under 845. The Huskies closed with a 7-under 277 while the Demon Deacons signed for an 11-under 273. A strong Texas squad, ranked 19th, stumbled a little in a final-round 291, but finished fifth at 6-under 846.
   The nation’s top-ranked team, Vanderbilt, wasn’t bad, taking sixth with a final-round 279 and a 1-over 853 total, but that was a whopping 30 shots behind the rampaging Cowboys.
   Washington was led by the individual champion Corey Pereira, a senior from Concord Park, Calif. Pereira finished with a pair of 67s after opening with a 70 for a 9-under 204 total.
   Four players finished a shot back of Pereira at 8-under 205, including two from team champion Oklahoma State. Zach Bauchou, a sophomore from Forest, Va., fired a final round of 5-under 66 while teammate Kristoffer Ventura, a senior from Norway, posted a 2-under 69 in the final round as they led the way for the Cowboys.
   Also in the foursome at 8-under was South Florida’s Cristian DiMarco, a junior from Longwood, Fla. and the son of the PGA Tour’s Chris DiMarco. DiMarco had a final-round 68.
   The last of the runnerup quartet was Baylor’s Garrett May, a sophomore from Hope, Ark. who headed the Bears’ brilliant team effort in the final round with a 5-under 66.
   Rounding out the Oklahoma State effort, Hayden Wood, a sophomore from Edmond, Okla., finished sixth at 7-under 206, Zachary Olsen, a senior from Cordova, Tenn., finished tied for 13th at 4-under 209 and Viktor Hovland, a freshman from Norway, finished tied for 21st at 1-under 212. Such was the level of play by the Cowboys that they were able to toss Olsen’s final round of 1-under 70.

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