No. 2 seed golf tees up for NCAA's

The Stanford men's golf team will open play on Tuesday morning in their quest for the 2010 NCAA championship, hoping to bring home the ninth national title in program history. The Cardinal were the Pac-10 runner-up to Washington in the Pac-10 tournament, who stormed back from a seven-shot deficit in the final round, but the boys in red have been hitting their stride on the links lately.

Stanford captured the Central Regional at Notre Dame earlier this month after notching a 10-under total for the tournament, good enough to top second place finisher Florida State by four shots. The win in South Bend propelled the Card to the No. 2 overall seed this week behind Oregon, who earned the No. 1 seed by winning the NCAA Southwest Regional.

Oklahoma State, Washington, and Texas round out the top five seeds, but the 30-team field faces a tougher challenge – the course. The Honors Course, located just outside of Chattanooga, Tenn., hosted the 1996 NCAA championship, when a Stanford sophomore by the name of Tiger Woods took home the NCAA individual title. (Whatever happened to him?) Unfortunately for Tiger, his championship was marred by an 8-over 80 final round, a fact that course members still brag about heartily to this day. But even with the ugly ochenta, Tiger's 3-under 285 total was good enough for a three-stroke victory over Arizona's Rory Sabbatini. Stanford finished fourth overall in 1996, with Arizona State winning the team title.

Finishing 73rd in that same tournament was Stanford Junior Conrad Ray, who now pilots the Stanford team as the head coach. His team of Joseph Bramlett, Steve Ziegler, Sihwan Kim, David Chung, and Andrew Yun looks to play three rounds of good golf in order to advance to the match play portion of the tournament, where the top eight teams (determined by the 54 holes of stroke play) go head-to-head in a single-elimination bracket. Last year, the Cardinal failed to advance to match play after shooting a 39-over 891, a total that left them 22 shots off the mark. Last year was the first year that the match-play portion of the tournament was instituted, after being purely stroke play beforehand. The stroke play format was especially good to the Cardinal, who won the 2007 NCAA championship in Williamsburg, Va., then finished as runner-up to UCLA by only one stroke in 2008 in West Lafayette, Ind. The Cardinal look to get back to their winning ways this week, and early predictions universally have Stanford advancing to match play but not winning the team title, indicating just how challenging this year's competition will be. Defending champion Texas A&M is looking to become the first repeat winner since Houston in 1984-85, and the Cowboys of Oklahoma State boast a team that was the top seed heading into the match play portion last year and captured the Big 12 title this season. From the Pac-10, Stanford's biggest challengers will be Pac-10 champ Washington, who blew away the West Regional with an eye-popping 20 under par total, and who boast this year's Ben Hogan award (National Player of the Year) winner Nick Taylor. Oregon also brings a solid squad to the Great Smoky Mountains, as they won the Southwest Regional by ten shots after a disappointing sixth-place finish at Pac-10's. Oregon head coach Casey Martin, a Stanford graduate, will do his best to try and propel the Webfoots to capitalize on their No. 1 seed. On the individual side, Stanford's best chance to repeat Tiger's feat comes in the form of sophomore David Chung, who leads the team with a solid 71.3 scoring average, and is ranked the No. 9 player in the country. Chung tied for fourth in the NCAA West Regional, just one shot ahead of teammate Steve Ziegler, and two shots ahead of fellow Cardinal Sihwan Kim. A wild card in the championships might be senior Joseph Bramlett, who has battled injuries the last two years. Bramlett fired 68-70-69 over the last three rounds back in the 2007 NCAA championship to help Stanford secure their last title. All in all, the Cardinal appear to be reloaded and ready to bring another title back to the Farm. Check out live scoring of the tournament on golfstat.com, and keep it tuned to The Bootleg for all the best coverage of Stanford sports!

First Round Pairings
Morning - Time 1st Tee Time 10th Tee

7:00 a.m. Kent State, TCU, San Diego. 7:20 California, Arizona State, Oregon State
7:47 a.m. North Florida, Duke, Tennessee. 8:07 Penn State, Virginia, Illinois
8:35 a.m. LSU, Baylor, Georgia Southern

Afternoon - Time 1st Tee Time 10th Tee
12:30 p.m. Washington, Texas, Texas Tech. 12:12 Oregon, Stanford, Oklahoma State
1:17 p.m. Florida State, Clemson, UCLA. 12:59 Texas A&M, USC, Augusta State
1:47 Florida, Georgia Tech, UNLV

Second Round Pairings
Morning - Time 1st Tee Time 10th Tee

7:00 a.m. Oregon, Stanford, Oklahoma State. 7:20 Washington, Texas, Texas Tech
7:47 a.m. Texas A&M, USC, Augusta State. 8:07 Florida State, Clemson, UCLA
8:44 a.m. Florida, Georgia Tech, UNLV

Afternoon - Time 1st Tee Time 10th Tee
12:30 p.m. California, Arizona State, Oregon State. 12:12 Kent State, TCU, San Diego
1:17 p.m. Penn State, Virginia, Illinois. 12:59 North Florida, Duke, Tennessee
1:47 LSU, Baylor, Georgia Southern


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