Members of the Stanford women's golf team have a clear task ahead of them this week at their own Stanford Intercollegiate, which runs Friday through Sunday at the par-71 Stanford Golf Course. That would be to end a drought.
Stanford hasn't won its own tournament, now hosted by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, since 1997. Coincidentally, that was the last time a Cardinal player -- Hilary Homeyer -- won individual honors. Previously, Mhairi McKay tied for first in 1995.
Stanford has finished among the top five a total of 10 times, last sniffing a title in 2012 with a third-place finish. Thus, it appears the Cardinal is long overdue to reach the championship podiums.
Nationally No. 4-ranked Stanford will be joined in the 17-team field by four other top-10 programs, including No. 1 Washington, No. 5 Northwestern, No. 6 USC, and No. 10 UCLA. There's also No. 12 Pepperdine and No. 23 UC Davis among the ranked teams.
The 54-hole event begins Friday and Saturday at 8:30 a.m., wrapping up Sunday starting at 7:30 a.m.
This season's field will feature an unprecedented three former individual champions, including 2013 medalist Alison Lee of UCLA. Lee will be joined by 2012 winner Kyung Kim of USC and 2011 medalist SooBin Kim of Washington.
USC captured the 2013 title for the second straight season, firing a tournament-record 21-under (276-272-283). UCLA Lee earned medalist honors at 7-under (69-67-70, 206).
Stanford is coming off a second-place finish at the fog-shortened Edean Ihlanfeldt Invitational last week in Washington, going 296-294 to finish at 14-over, eight shots clear of third-place UC Davis and 19 shots behind tournament champion and host Washington.
Stanford placed three in the top 10, highlighted by Lauren Kim's final-round 2-under 70 to finish fourth. Kim, who was tied for 30th after the opening round, knocked in four birdies in her final stretch to secure a 2-over (76-70) for the event.
Stanford's Casey Danielson and defending individual champion Mariah Stackhouse tied for eighth with identical rounds of 72-75, 3-over par for the 36 holes.
For the first time since 2010, Taube Family Tennis Stadium will serve as the host site for the USTA/ITA Northwest Regional Championships when play gets underway Friday.
Representing Stanford in singles will be freshman Tom Fawcett, sophomore Yale Goldberg, freshman David Hsu, senior John Morrissey, junior Nolan Paige, junior Maciek Romanowicz, senior Robert Stineman, junior Trey Strobel, sophomore Brandon Sutter, junior Anthony Tsodikov and David Wilczynski.
Cardinal doubles pairings include: Fawcett/Morrissey, Goldberg/Stineman, Hsu/Wilczynski, Paige/Strobel and Sutter/Tsodikov.
In addition to Stanford, the ITA's Northwest Region schools are comprised of the following: California, Eastern Washington, Fresno State, Gonzaga, Oregon, Pacific, Portland, Portland State, Sacramento State, Saint Mary's, San Francisco, Santa Clara, UC Davis and Washington.
In last year's tournament, Tsodikov reached the quarterfinals while the tandem of Goldberg and Morrissey advanced to the semifinals.
Ryan Thacher captured Stanford's most recent singles title at the event, defeating California's Ben McLachlan, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, in 2011 in Seattle. It's been five years since the Cardinal walked away with a doubles title, with Bradley Klahn and Thacher prevailing, 8-3, over Fresno State's duo of Mirko Zapletal and Taylor Leiby.
Friday's action begins with the first two rounds of singles and the opening slate of doubles. The competition continues Saturday with two more rounds on both sides with the quarterfinals set for Sunday. Semifinals for singles and doubles are contested Monday, before the championship matches on Tuesday.
Top-ranked Stanford will put its 16-0 record on the line this weekend when it visits Colorado (3-3, 11-7) on Friday and Utah (1-5, 11-6) on Sunday. The Cardinal (6-0) shares the Pac-12 lead with Washington (6-0, 17-0).
The Cardinal is off to its best start to a season since 2007, when that squad went 17-0. The school record for consecutive wins to start a season is 27, set by the 1991 team.
Colorado enters the week tied for fifth in the Pac-12 with Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA and USC. The Buffaloes are hitting .261 as a team. Stanford is 12-0 all-time against Colorado. The Cardinal swept both matches against the Buffaloes last year.
Despite coming up winless last week in Los Angeles, Utah pushed 17th-ranked UCLA to five sets, falling 15-13 in the fifth. The Cardinal holds an 8-1 advantage in the all-time series against the Utes. Stanford swept Utah in both meeting last season.
Stanford redshirt freshman middle blocker Merete Lutz continues to lead the nation with a .516 hitting percentage, the only player in the country hitting over .500. Junior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku is No. 3 nationally with a .473 attack percentage.
Senior libero Kyle Gilbert (1,682) moved into second place on the Cardinal's career digs list past Kristin Richards (2003-06) with 16 digs against Oregon on Oct. 3. Gabi Ailes (2007-10) holds the Stanford record and ranks fifth all-time in the Pac-12 with 2,147 career digs.