HUTCHINSON, Kan. – Stanford’s sports information director came prepared – with a pair of black, horn-rimmed glasses with tape wrapped around the bridge.
Apparently it’s trendy for high-profile Cardinal athletes to don the glasses after victories – Nerd Nation! – and it was a fitting look for Cameron Wilson on Monday night.
After all, his rise from underwhelming freshman to NCAA individual champion was largely because he became a student of the game.
Wilson sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole to defeat Georgia Tech’s Ollie Schniederjans and become just the third Stanford player to win the NCAA individual title. Sandy Tatum (1942) and Tiger Woods (1996) are the others.
“This is pretty surreal,” said Wilson, who finished the three-round event at 6-under 204.
The left-hander was a highly prized recruit, but he failed to live up to those lofty expectations during his first few years on The Farm.
To improve, assistant coach Philip Rowe said Wilson digested all of the available information – from TrackMan data to fitness to nutrition.
Over the past four years, Wilson’s stroke average has dropped from 74.3 to 73.4 to 71.6 to his current sub-70 mark.
“He has picked on different aspects of his game,” Rowe said, “and it all added up to this.”
Playing each day alongside the best player in the country can’t hurt, either.
Junior Patrick Rodgers and Wilson are Nos. 1 and 2 in Golfstat’s individual rankings, respectively, and there’s little doubt they pushed each other along the way.
Said head coach Conrad Ray, “Having a sparring partner in Patrick and getting up every day trying to beat him, it’s quite a grind.”
This was Wilson’s third victory of the season and should put him in the discussion for National Player of the Year. He didn’t finish outside the top 15 all season.
As for Schniederjans, he has a school-record five wins this season for Tech, and he also has runners-up in his last two starts, at NCAA regionals and now in the NCAA individual championship.
“I have a long-term focus,” Schniederjans said. “I know I’m going to be in contention in a lot of big tournaments, and this is just another experience under my belt. Great players are always putting themselves in position, so there’s no shame in runner-up.”