STACKHOUSE – NCAA
By: Mike Blum
Riverdale’s Mariah Stackhouse lifted Stanford to the NCAA Women’s Championship in Bradenton, F.L., winning the decisive match on the 19th hole to give the Cardinal a 3-2 victory over Baylor.
The two teams were tied 2-2 with Stackhouse’s match against the only one left on thecourse. Stackhouse was 2-down with two holes to play after Davis won the 16th hole with a birdie following a terrific second shot from a muddy area within a hazard.
Stackhouse won the par-5 17th when she reached the green in two and two-putted for a birdie, and sent the match to extra holes after another birdie on the par-4 18th. Stackhouse, a junior, parred the first extra hole and Davis, a senior, missed a short par putt to give Stanford its first ever NCAA women’s golf title.
Stanford, seeded fourth among the eight teams in the match play field, won its quarterfinal match 4-1 against No. 5 Arizona, with Stackhouse winning her match 2-up over Arizona’s No. 1 player. Stackhouse had six birdies in the match and won the 13th and 14th holes after the match was all square with six holes to play.
Stackhouse lost her next match later that afternoon to the No. 1 player from top-seeded Southern California, but Stanford won three of the other four matches for a 3-2 victory. Stackhouse won the first two holes, but struggled the rest of the way and lost 6&4, dropping eight of the last 12 holes.
In her match in the finals against Davis, only two holes were halved, as each player won eight holes. Stackhouse lost four holes in a five-hole stretch on the front nine to fall 3-down after eight. She won holes 9 and 10, but the two players went back and forth with Davis winning holes 11, 13 and 16 to go 2- up after Stackhouse won the previous hole.
Davis was on the verge of taking control of the match after driving the short, par-4 12th, leading 2-up. But Stackhouse chipped in from just short of the green for a winning eagle when Davis missed her eagle putt.
After fighting a losing battle with an extremely severe green on the 13th, Stackhouse played flawless golf over the next six holes, carding four pars and two clutch birdies in her winning comeback.
It was an up and down week for both Stackhouse and Stanford, which was tied for the lead in stroke play after shooting 293 the first day, but fell 16 back at the tournament’s midway point following a second round 323, the highest score by any of the 15 teams over four days.
Stackhouse shot 68 the first day to take the individual lead, but fell back with a 78 in the second round. She was still the team’s low scorer that day, as none of her teammates broke 80.
Stanford moved back into contention with a 296 in the third round, with Stackhouse contributing a 75. The team moved up to fourth with a final round 287, the only under par team score for the tournament. Stackhouse closed with a 70 to finish at 291, sixth in the individual competition.
The final day heroics capped what had been the least successful of Stackhouse’s three seasons at Stanford.
Stackhouse was a first team All-American as both a freshman and sophomore, winning two tournaments both years with a string of other top finishes. One of her wins as a freshman came in a tournament hosted by Stanford, with Stackhouse shooting a record-setting 61 en route to her victory.
She finished third in the Pac-12 tournament, and played well along with her team for 36 holes in the NCAA Championship at the UGA course in Athens. But Stanford fell back the final two days, while Stackhouse suffered through a difficult final round.
Stackhouse again won two tournaments as a sophomore and was a first team All-American for a second time. She led her regional after 36 holes and finished 11th and turned in a steady performance in the NCAA Championship.
After four wins her first two seasons, Stackhouse was winless as a junior, with a runner-up finish in the Stanford tournament she won as a freshman her only finish better than eighth. She played well in just one round in both the Pac-12 tournament and NCAA Regional, but found her game in time to lead Stanford to a national title.
Prior to enrolling at Stanford in 2012, Stackhouse put together an outstanding junior career while winning a host of tournaments in the state against adult competitors. She won the Georgia Women’s Amateur Championship and GSGA Women’s Match Play twice each and the Georgia Women’s Open the only time she played it.
Stackhouse made the first of her two appearances in the U.S. Women’s Open prior to her senior year in high school, and was a member of the winning U.S. Curtis Cup team last year.