Sports

McNealy tops Pac-12 leaderboard; Stanford in third after first day

 

Portola Valley resident Maverick McNealy caught fire early and never cooled down to open the Pac-12 Conference Championships at Palouse Ridge Golf Club in Pullman, Wash.

The Stanford sophomore, with four wins this season, signed off on rounds of 65 and 68 to hold the overall lead at 7-under, which included an eagle and 11 birdies, the most of any player through Monday's 36 holes of action.

McNealy gained steamed on a cold morning by posting a 5-under 30 on the back nine. Part of that stretch included four birdies on the first six holes and an eagle on 18. He also recorded back-to-back birdies to begin his second round.

One of the many consistent aspects of McNealy's day was cashing in on scoring tries on the 18th hole.

"This morning I hit a three wood off the tee to the right-center of the fairway and had 280 yards uphill to the pin," McNealy described. "Coach told me to rip one at the grandstand to the right of the green, so I smoked a hot one that got a good bounce left and curled up to about four feet. Made eagle to cap off a solid back nine."

Washington State's Derek Bayley, who shot a 5-under 65 in the second round, took the overall lead into his final hole, which he bogeyed. McNealy regained the top spot moments later with a birdie on his final hole.

"Smoked another three wood off the tee in the afternoon and had 250 yards to the pin, uphill, and it was playing around 262," McNealy said. "I roasted a 3-iron and got a hot bounce forward instead of left. It ran through to the bunker behind the green. I tried to play it out sideways and it got caught on the end of the rough. That left me with a 30-foot downhill putt. I tapped it out of the rough with my putter and it went in for birdie."

Stanford (362-348) was sixth after the morning session and 14 shots better on its second circuit. The defending conference champion Cardinal was one of three teams to shoot under-par in the second round.

USC (-1) leads the 12-team field ahead of Arizona State (+5), Stanford (+10) and host Washington State (+10). Stanford will tee off Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. alongside Washington and Oregon.

"I thought the guys struck the ball pretty well overall," Stanford coach Conrad Ray said. "We were a little loose on the greens and missed a few opportunities with our chipping and putting. The team battled hard all day. Maverick has been our leader all year and played great today. He showed why he's one of the best out there."

Franklin Huang went 73-70 in his league tournament debut for a share of 22nd. His even-par second round included a four-putt.

Viraat Badhwar nearly aced the par-3 fourth from 190 yards out to start the 12-hour marathon.

"I struck a perfect seven iron, and the ball chased the flag before landing a foot short," said Badhwar. "It bounced up and hit the pin. I had some good things happen after that. It helped, because I started off a bit rough this morning. It was really cold and tough to get the body warm."

Badhwar is 5-over after rounds of 75 and 70. Senior team captain and Menlo School grad Patrick Grimes (74-71) is tied for 32nd with Badhwar.

David Boote (75-69) was six shots better in the afternoon and tied for 27th.

"I got off a hot start in the afternoon, and that give me the confidence I needed for the rest of the round," Boote said of his two birdies through four holes in the second round. "I didn't hit the ball much better, just played a bit smarter."

Boote moved up 17 spots in the standings between rounds.

Women

For the 23rd consecutive season, Stanford has earned a spot in the NCAA Regional Championships.

The Cardinal will compete in the St. George Regional to be played at Entrada at Snow Canyon Country Club in St. George, Utah. Brigham Young will serve as the host institution.

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Committee announced the teams and individuals selected to participate in the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Golf Regionals on Monday. Four regional tournaments will be conducted May 7-9 to determine the championships field. Regional tournaments are considered preliminary rounds of NCAA championships competition and all national championships policies apply.

The national championships will be May 22-27 at The Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla., hosted by the University of South Florida. The final three days of the championship will be televised live by the Golf Channel.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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