CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – There are no leaderboards here at NCAA regionals, so a little look can go a long way.
A purposeful stride. A thumbs up. A wave. Stanford’s players don’t shout out their score – Hey, guys, I’m 6 under today! – but their mid-round gestures can tell their teammates all they need to know about how their day is going.
And on Friday, there was plenty of positive body language.
All five Stanford players shot par or better, though the best of the bunch was sophomore Maverick McNealy, whose second-round 67 helped the Cardinal surge to the lead here at Finley Golf Course.
The team's 13-under 275 was the low round of the day by a whopping nine shots, vaulting Stanford from seventh place to first.
“I think we all felt great heading into today,” McNealy said. “I think it helps when you see teammates playing great ahead of you.”
David Boote shot 68, Franklin Huang had 69 and Viraat Badhwar turned in a 71 to position the second-seeded Cardinal at 11-under 565, one shot ahead of Charlotte.
“We got the momentum,” Boote said, “and we can all feel it just looking at each other.”
After McNealy stuffed another iron shot on the fourth hole, he looked over at the adjacent hole and saw Badhwar clapping and giving him a tip of the cap. It was like that all day.
“It’s fun to see that,” McNealy said.
Two bogeys in his last five holes dampened what was another sensational round from the NCAA Player of the Year favorite. After struggling with the speed of the greens during an opening 70, McNealy turned in 31 and added two more birdies on Nos. 1 and 4 before a few late stumbles.
It’s not the first time that McNealy’s low round has helped propel his teammates. At last month’s Pac-12 Championship, McNealy shot 61 on a day when no other player on his team shot worse than par. So, throw out McNealy’s record-low round, and the Cardinal still erase a nine-shot deficit and win by 4.
Indeed, those little looks go a long way.