Looking to Repeat: Stanford Men's Golf Outlook
Sept. 20, 2007
Stanford, Calif. - The Stanford men's golf team begins 2007-08 in the best possible position. Not only is the Cardinal coming off of a decisive 12-stroke victory at the NCAA Championships, but, going into the season, the team is ranked No. 1. The squad has three returning All-Americans and has added four talented newcomers, including two from among the top handful in the nation. Head Coach Conrad Ray is the reigning Conference, Regional and National Coach of the Year, and three of his players are among 2007-08's Top-50 Players to Watch. With all of the tools they need to succeed, Ray and his squad are ready to make a run at another title.
Ray begins his fourth season at the helm of the program, having brought it incredible success. In his first year as a head coach, he led the team to its first NCAA Championship appearance since 2001, and by last season, he had joined the elite group of NCAA head coaches to have won a national title as both an athlete and coach. This season, Ray aims to continue to build on that success and bring home Stanford's first repeat national title since 1942.
Senior Rob Grube will be the team's anchor in 2007-08, as the only senior on the Cardinal roster. Grube, one of the most successful golfers in Stanford history, finished third at the NCAA Championships last year and earned the third All-America honor of his career. He led the team with a 71.1 stroke average over 13 events, a mark that ranked third all-time in the Cardinal record books. Grube posted ten top-25 finishes, six of which were top-ten, and won two tournaments. As a senior this season, Grube has a chance to become Stanford's second four-time All-American, a feat only PGA professional Joel Kribel has accomplished.
'Rob Grube is the hardest worker I have ever met,' says Ray. 'He will be a leader for us this year on and off the course and I know he still has many things he wants to accomplish in the game and for his team. I look for big things from Rob this season.'
Stanford's other two returning All-Americans, junior Daniel Lim and sophomore Joseph Bramlett, were both members of last year's fivesome that won the NCAA title. Along with Grube, the pair knows what it takes to make it to the top, and will undoubtedly be valuable assets to the 2007-08 team.
'The experience that the team garners with every trip to the NCAA is irreplaceable,' says Ray. 'These guys want to make it back, so our challenge will be to concentrate on the little things that add up to the bigger goal.'
Lim played in ten tournaments for the Cardinal last season, and recorded seven top-25 finishes. An Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 selection, Lim notched his best performance of the year at the U.S. Intercollegiate in April, finishing third at the team's home tournament with 4-under, 206. The junior, who finished the season with a 72.4 stroke average, went on to tie for 15th in his first appearance at the NCAA Championships with three under-par rounds. In 2007-08, the Cupertino, Calif. native will bring key experience to the Cardinal roster.
'Daniel Lim epitomizes the grit and tenacity that our team needs to have for success this season,' says Ray. 'He has worked hard on his fitness and technique in the off season and should play a big role on this team.'
Bramlett was one of the nation's most outstanding rookies last year, getting a fast start to his collegiate career. The local product tied for 11th in his first collegiate tournament, and proceeded to earn top-25 finishes in all five fall events. By February, he had won his first tournament, the Puerto Rico Classic, and by late May, he had 10 top-25 finishes, three top-10 finishes and the lowest freshman stroke average since Tiger Woods. Bramlett competed at the NCAA Championships and helped the team to the title, finishing the season with a 71.5 stroke average and 18 under-par rounds. Bramlett was named to the elite GCAA All-Freshman Team following his inaugural campaign. This season, Bramlett looks to build on his early success and carry the team to another NCAA title.
'Any coach would love to have five Joseph Bramlett's on their team,' says Ray 'Joe has a knack for getting the ball into the hole and shooting the lowest score he can that given day. He has all of the physical and mental tools to be one of our best.'
Two more Stanford veterans will further bolster the 2007-08 roster. Junior Dodge Kemmer was an All-Conference selection in 2006, and competed in 16 events in his first two years on the Farm. He recorded a pair of top-25 finishes last season and finished the year with a 73.2 stroke average. Sophomore Jordan Cox recorded two top-15 finishes in his first three collegiate events, and gained valuable experience as a member of the squad's fivesome at the Pac-10 Championships.
'Dodge and Jordan will see much more playing time this year,' says Ray 'Both have great work ethic and the ability to go low: two keys to success in college golf. '
In addition the solid base of returnees, however, Ray has nabbed one of the best recruiting classes in the nation. The class is headlined by Sihwan Kim (Buena Park, Calif.), Stanford's first U.S. Junior Champion since Tiger Woods. Considered one of the top-10 recruits in his class, Kim was also listed among the Top-50 Players to Watch in Golf World's College Preview. In his collegiate debut at the Topy Cup in September, Kim immediately rose to the top and led the team with a third place finish. Another newcomer, Steve Ziegler (Broomfield, Colo.), is also considered one of the nation's top-15 recruits after winning two Colorado State Championships. The class is rounded out by a pair of promising young golfers, Matt Kennerknecht (Vienna, Va.) and Graham Brockington (Laguna Niguel, Calif.).
'I love our freshman class!' says Ray. 'Every guy brings a different personality and qualities that can help the team. They are excited to make their mark and take on all of the challenges that Stanford and high level college golf provide.'
Ray has lined up a competitive schedule for his team in 2007-08, beginning with the team's early start at the Topy Cup in Japan.
'We will compete against many of the top ranked teams in the country this season,' he says. 'This exposure will help us prepare for the NCAA Tournament in June which is our ultimate goal.'
The remaining schedule will be highlighted by the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational in Windermere, Florida (Oct. 21-23) and the U.S. Collegiate Championship in Alpharetta, Ga. (Mar. 24-26) where Stanford will meet some of the other top-tier programs. Stanford will host the annual U.S. Intercollegiate Apr. 19-20, which features eight of the ten Pac-10 squads. The Pac-10 Championships will be local this year, hosted by Cal at The Meadow Club in San Rafael, Apr. 28-30, while the NCAA Championship is set for May 30-Jun. 2 in Lafayette, Ind.
'With this team we will have a great chance to have another rewarding season,' notes Ray. 'This will only come with hard work and determination, but I firmly believe this group of guys is up for the challenge. Good college golf is just as much about your fifth man as it is your number one and this year's team will be one of the deepest we have ever had. The outlook is very bright.'