Feb. 5, 2013
Amer Ari Invitational Live Scoring
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford men's golf, ranked 15th by Golfweek, will open its spring season on Wednesday at the Amer Ari Invitational, where competition flourishes against five of the top-10 teams in the nation at the Waikoloa Kings' Course on the Big Island.
No. 2 (Golfweek) Texas, No. 6 Washington, No. 7 UCLA, No. 8 USC, and No. 10 Georgia Tech, along with the Cardinal and No. 14 Oklahoma State, headline the field which also includes Pac-12 rivals Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, and Oregon State.
Texas Tech, UC Davis, Auburn, Cal-State Stanislaus, Hawaii-Hilo, Hawaii-Manoa, San Jose State, Texas Christian, and Osaka Gakuin University from Japan round out the field.
"All the teams there are competitive," said The Knowles Family Director of Golf Conrad Ray. "It's a type of course where you can make a birdie or an eagle or a couple of those in a row pretty quickly. I think if we're about our own business, worrying about the course, and just trying to shoot as low as we can, save shots, manage our team stuff mentally, and manage the golf ball if there's some wind, that'll lead us to where we want to go."
This 54-hole event is the 22nd annual Amer Ari Invitational. There will be three rounds, 18 holes per day, from February 6-8. Live scoring will be available on GolfStat.com.
The first time Stanford won the team event was in 2008, and individually Notah Begah captured the title in 1994. Last year, Stanford placed third at 844 (-20), led by Patrick Rodgers who finished third and Andrew Yun who finished fourth overall.
Ray will start a lineup featuring senior Yun, sophomore Rodgers, junior Cameron Wilson, senior Steve Kearney, and freshman David Boote. Junior Shane Lebow will compete as an individual.
"There was only one spot available from the qualifying and [Steven] really ended up stamping his authority on that one spot," said Philip Rowe, Stanford Enlight Foundation Assistant Coach. "His putting is a lot sounder now than it was last fall. He's set up in a way in his putting that helps him have a much more consistent stroke. He's always been a good ball striker but it's his putting--his short game--where it's going to make all the difference."
Kearney comes in as the fifth man. He competed in four events this fall where his best finish came with a tie for 41st place at the Gifford Intercollegiate.
"Knowing that this tournament is one of the most incredible experiences of the year, everyone wanted that last spot," said Kearney. "I tried to just focus on my process and push everything else out of my mind. Luckily I played pretty well and shot under par in three rounds out of four."
The Cardinal began fall season with strong team finishes: second at the Gifford Intercollegiate at CordeValle, fourth at the Fighting Illini and the Stanford Classic, fifth at the U.S. Collegiate Championships, and eighth at the Pac-12 Preview.
Since then, however, the traveling team has changed. Yun, who was absent during the fall season while competing in the Q-school process, returns to Stanford for spring season in the top qualifying spot.
"My mindset going into qualifying was to focus on the positives," said Yun, the reigning Pac-12 Champion who goes to Hawaii for the fourth time in his collegiate career. "I felt like I did a great job in letting go of past shots and staying in the present. I will be really pleased if I can keep this frame of mind throughout the tournament."
Another expectant leader in the lineup is sophomore standout Patrick Rodgers, who defended his Fighting Illini title and captured the U.S. Collegiate Championship in the fall.
"Patrick has been the heart and soul of our team this fall," said Ray. "He's looking forward to the opportunity to compete against some of the best teams and some of the best individuals out there."
During the offseason Rodgers (72-73-71-70-286), along with California's Brandon Hagy (73-79-70-72-295), captured the Australian Master of the Amateurs World Cup after a combined final score of 581 in January. Rodgers also placed sixth individually at two strokes under par during the tournament.
"What came of that was a renewed focus on the process of playing tournaments as opposed to the results," said Rodgers on his mindset in that winter tournament in Melbourne. "If I continue moving forward with that plan, the results will come."
For Rodgers, that experience made him a better well-rounded player.
"I have been working hard this offseason and implementing some new things into my game," said Rodgers, who was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and earned first team All-American honors last season. "I chose to come to Stanford for many reasons but one of them is the depth of talented players on the team. I really look at all of our guys and take aspects of their games and try to learn from that."
This strong lineup also features Wilson, who made his fall debut at the U.S. Collegiate Championships where he tied for 34th place. But it was in the Gifford Intercollegiate where he made a statement, shooting a course-record 61--a feat done by only one other Stanford golfer, Tiger Woods--that pushed him toward a second-place finish.
"Over the winter, [Cameron's] been stretching to make sure the injury he had wouldn't reoccur," said Rowe on Wilson's back troubles in the fall. "That's been the main thing. His technical side is very much in his domain. He's in control of that. We're more on the course strategy, which he's good at too."
"It was disappointing to be injured for the summer and fall, especially because I was playing well even with my injury," said Wilson. "[I] pay more attention to how my body feels while playing and practicing."
Rounding up the traveling five is Boote, the freshman from England, who finished tied for third at the Pac-12 Preview, tied for seventh at the Fighting Illini, tied for ninth at the Gifford Intercollegiate, and tied for thirteenth at the U.S. Collegiate Championships.
"I was nervous starting out, but it was nice to get some solid finishes under my belt in the first couple of tournaments," said Boote who goes to Hawaii for the first time. "This gave me the confidence to push on and play well for the rest of the fall season. [Then] during the qualifying rounds for Hawaii my mindset was to treat them as if it was an actual tournament. I was already exempt for Hawaii so [I] didn't have the worries about qualification, however I wanted to get some competitive playing in before the season got going again to see where my game was at and what I needed to work on."
Also on the Hawaii trip is Lebow, who competes as an individual.
"This is my first year making the trip, and from hearing stories it sounds like a great time," said Lebow. "To get into a good rhythm coming off break would be huge for the rest of the spring season."
The Amer Ari Invitational looks to be a statement maker.
"We know there's still a long ways until now and the NCAA Championship in May so the goal and the message I'll be sending the guys is to try to pick up lessons as we go along," said Ray. "Great competition and the opportunity to test against a strong field will give you a lot of information of where you need to go."
- By Estela-Marie Go, Stanford Athletics
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