Stanford's Men's Golf Preview
Jan. 27, 2010
STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford's men's golf program enters the spring portion of its season with one goal in mind--to win the national championship to be held at the Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn., in June.
Six returning letterwinners along with three promising freshmen will lead Stanford's quest of securing the program's ninth national title. Juniors Sihwan Kim and Steve Ziegler, sophomore David Chung and the return of a healthy Joseph Bramlett give Stanford one of the most talented and deepest lineups in Conrad Ray's six-year tenure as head coach.
Ziegler led the Cardinal in stroke average last year as a sophomore, earning first team All-Pac-10 Conference honors. Kim enjoyed two second place finishes this fall and looks to have returned to the All-America form that he demonstrated as a freshman when he was ranked seventh in the country at the end of the season.
Chung, who won the prestigious North & South Men's Amateur Championship in July, is considered one of the top underclassmen in the country.
Competition for the fifth spot in the lineup will be fierce, with senior Jordan Cox, juniors Graham Brockington and Wilson Bowen along with a trio of talented freshmen - Andre De Decker, Steve Kearney and Andrew Yun - looking to enter the mix.
'This team is definitely one of the deepest teams we have fielded in recent years in terms of overall scoring ability,' said Ray, who guided the Cardinal to the 2007 NCAA Championship and a runner-up finish in 2008. 'They are confident in their abilities and have all played at a very high level.'
Stanford finished no lower than fourth in any of its four fall tournaments and captured the Gifford Intercollegiate championship in early November. The Cardinal also turned in impressive performances against strong fields at the Olympia Fields Fighting Illini Invitational (4th), The Prestige at PGA West (2nd) and at the Isleworth Collegiate Invitational (3rd).
'We were very consistent during the fall and feel we can take even another step up this spring,' said Ray. 'I am really excited to see how our freshmen develop, as well.'
Here's a class-by-class look at the 2009-10 Stanford Cardinal:
Ray knows a healthy Joseph Bramlett might be the key to the Stanford's NCAA championship fortunes.
Bramlett, who at 14 was the youngest ever to qualify for the U.S. Amateur, has been limited to just nine events over the past two seasons due to various injuries. After being sidelined all of last spring and this fall, Bramlett hopes to return to form that he showed as a freshman, when he recorded a 71.5 stroke average and fired a final-round 69 at the NCAA Championships in leading the Cardinal to the national title.
Bramlett's last collegiate tournament came in November of 2008, when he finished sixth at the CordeValle Intercollegiate Championships, his ninth career top-10 finish.
'From every standpoint, Joe plays a big role on this team, obviously,' said Ray. 'When he is healthy, he is one of the most talented players in the country. We are hoping he can finish his career the same way it began--with a national championship.'
Jordan Cox joins Bramlett to round out Stanford's senior class. Cox, who qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, will be a fixture in the lineup if he can demonstrate the consistency in his game that made him one of the top junior players in the country coming out of Serra High School in nearby San Mateo, Calif.
Cox carded a 77.5 stroke average in two tournaments this fall and was limited to just four events last year.
'The talent is there,' said Ray. 'Consistency will be the key for Jordan. The competition for the fifth spot in the lineup will be outstanding all spring.'
Kim was Stanford's most consistent player during the fall, posting three top-10 finishes in four outings to go along with a team-best 71.3 stroke average. He closed the fall with back-to-back second-place finishes at the Isleworth and Gifford Intercollegiate Championships.
Kim, who earned first team All-America honors as a freshman when he finished the year ranked seventh in the nation, has played in 28 tournaments since arriving on the Farm in the fall of 2007, carding a 72.5 stroke average.
'Sihwan has the full scope of tools,' said Ray. 'He is so naturally talented and hits the ball so far. I think his mental approach is much better this season, which is good sign of his maturity as a golfer.'
Ziegler earned first team All-Pac-10 honors last season after leading the Cardinal in stroke average (72.5) as a sophomore. He enjoyed five top-10 finishes on the year and captured his first collegiate title at the USC/Ashworth Invitational.
A native of Broomfield, Colo., Ziegler enjoyed a sensational summer, winning both the Colorado Golf Association Stroke Play and Match Play championships, becoming just the ninth player to win both events in the same year. He also qualified for the match play portion at the U.S. Amateur.
'Steven might be the difference for us this spring,' said Ray. 'I think he will be the first to tell you he had an average fall by his standards, but he knows how to win. He's one of out steadiest players, no doubt.'
Graham Brockington, who competed in three events during the fall and carded a 75.9 stroke average, will compete for a regular spot in the spring lineup.
'Graham displays the work ethic and desire that we all need to succeed as a team,' said Ray. 'No one works harder and that will raise the level of everyone around him. He is a big asset.'
David Chung made an immediate impact last year as a freshman, earning second team All-Pac-10 honors. His stroke average of 73.8 was the third best on the team behind Ziegler and senior Dodge Kemmer (73.8).
Chung further served notice that he is one of the top young players in the country last summer, when he captured the prestigious North & South Men's Amateur Championships held at Pinehurst No. 2, just outside of his hometown of Fayetteville, NC.
'David has no weaknesses,' said Ray. 'His win at the North & South did so much for his confidence level.'
Wilson Bowen, who is in his second year in the program, redshirted last year a freshman. He saw his first collegiate action this fall at The Prestige at PGA West, where he tied for 78th.
Yun, a native of Chandler, Ariz., was a constant presence in the fall lineup, competing in all four events and registering a 74.0 stroke average, highlighted by a third-place finish at the Gifford Intercollegiate Championships at CordeValle.A four-time American Junior Golf Association All-American, Yun was ranked as high as fifth in the AJGA rankings that were released last August after a second-place finish at the Porter Cup in July.
'Andrew is a very accomplished, young player who will push some of the veterans,' said Ray. 'He will be a mainstay in the lineup for years to come.'
De Decker was the second ranked junior player in South Africa coming out of high school last year and was a member of the South African Under-16 Junior Team.
Kearney, a native of Carlsbad, Calif., was the top-ranked junior player in the San Diego area and was ranked among the top-30 junior players in the nation last year.