PEBBLE BEACH — It has been a good month for Stanford University golfer Brandon Wu.
Just 18 days ago, he helped the Cardinal win the NCAA Division I golf championship. And on June 3, he nabbed the final spot at U.S. Open Sectional qualifying in Columbus, Ohio, tying for seventh. In doing so, he opted to skip his college graduation to compete in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Wu made sure to add to the storyline. He not only made the cut, he entered Sunday’s final round — paired with 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson — with a two-stroke lead on incoming Oklahoma State senior Viktor Hovland in the race for low-amateur honors.
“It has been a crazy two to three weeks,” said Wu, a product design major who helped the Cardinal win their final five tournaments, including the nationally televised Western Intercollegiate at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz on April 17. “I didn’t really envision this as how to end my college career. I thought I’d be taking exams and walking at graduation, so. I haven’t been in school for a couple of weeks now. It’s been surreal, for sure.”
✔️Win an NCAA title.
✔️Qualify for @usopengolf.
✔️Play the weekend.
✔️Get your Stanford diploma by the Pacific.
Good to be Brandon Wu. pic.twitter.com/mwFokcONNF
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) June 17, 2019
He closed with 74 for a 1-over-par 285 total, tied for 35th with Johnson and five others. Gary Woodland won with a 13-under 271 total. Hovland, the low amateur at The Masters, repeated with the honor after shooting 280.
The decision to skip his graduation wasn’t an easy one, though Wu, who hails from Scarsdale, New York has dreamed of playing a U.S. Open at Pebble since 2010, the last time the PGA Tour major was held at Pebble. He, then a 13-year-old, attended the tournament with his father and sat on the signature seventh hole.
The decision to skip turning pro — Wu would’ve earned a payday after making the cut on Friday — was the easier decision. After the third round, Wu told Golf World that he’ll remain an amateur through the summer in hopes of playing for the U.S. Walker Cup team in September. He said he envisions plenty of professional golf in his future.
Wu fired off rounds of 71, 69 and 71 entering Sunday, when he opened with two tough-to-swallow bogeys, especially after missing an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 1. Still, he smiled after finishing the hole.
“Honestly, I haven’t been really nervous all week,” Wu said. “Obviously the crowd makes everything a little more jumpy, but it’s just golf out there. I just tried to play my game and stick to my game plan.”
Admittedly, Wu found himself in the rough more than he would’ve liked, limiting his chances of scoring well.
He hit driver five times in the final round, hole Nos. 2, 9, 10 13 and 14, but struggled with his iron play as well. Still, he kept a smile on his face throughout while staying focused.
The gallery chirped throughout his round, calling out “Hey, Stanford,” “Go Cardinal,” “Wu,” “Wu Wu,” and even “Go Cal.”
Wu didn’t turn to acknowledge every comment, but he heard them.
“It was definitely a day to remember,” Wu said. It was much bigger than this round.
That said, he finished with five bogeys (Nos. 1, 2, 14, 15 and 18) and two birdies (Nos. 6 and 8).
Some fans also offered him congratulations on his graduation. He was presented his cap and diploma behind the 18th green following his round, with friends and family watching. Monterey Bay served as the backdrop.
Wu said he might have some regret about passing on walking with his friends, but this was too good to pass up, even if he has a long future in golf awaiting him.
“This is a nice backdrop,” Wu said. “Stanford Stadium is pretty cool, but this is also pretty cool.”
This article is written by Jim Seimas from The Santa Cruz Sentinel and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.