Stanford downs Cal in the Big Match
30 Sep 2022
by Jim Young of AmateurGolf.com

When the football teams from Stanford and Cal got together on March 19, 1892 on San Francisco's Haight Street Grounds for the first Big Game, the participants couldn't have imagined the rivalry - or frolics - one game would create over the next century and beyond.

Only 10,000 tickets were printed for the 1892 game but 20,000 people showed up, forcing Stanford team manager Herbert Hoover and his Cal counterpart Herbert Lang to scramble to find pots, bowls and any other available receptacles to collect the admission fees.

They had plenty of time, as the game was delayed for more than an hour. Legend has it that the future U.S. President absent-mindedly forgot to bring the ball with him.

Many events have spun off from the 10th longest rivalry in college football between the two Bay Area universities, including "The Big Splash" (water polo), "The Big Spike" (volleyball), "The Big Sweep" (Quidditch), "The Big Freeze" (ice hockey), and the Ink Bowl, a touch football game between the members of the two schools' newspapers. In addition, the two schools compete in a blood drive called "Rivals for Life."

Supposedly when Stanford was building its Hoover Tower, university officials asked Cal for the measurements of its Campanile, which sits in the center of the Berkeley campus. The story goes UC Berkeley gave Stanford fake measurements in order to ensure that the Campanile would always remain the tallest.

The Cal-Stanford rivalry also produced what some call the most memorable play in college football history, a last-second, five-lateral, "the band is on the field" game-winning kickoff return for Cal in the 1982 Big Game, known simply as The Play.

Stanford's and Cal's golf teams joined the fun in 2018 by introducing the Big Match, a six-match, mix-gender four-ball format held hosted by Menlo Country Club in Woodside, Calif., a strong 3-wood from the Stanford campus.

"I'm frequently asked by college coaches around the country about the Big Match and how we do it," Cal women's coach Nancy McDaniel said. "It really was one of the first of its kind for college golf and we all take pride in that. We're psyched about seeing others follow suit in the future."

Though first played in 2018, this year's version of the Big Match held Thursday at Menlo CC was just the third in the series due the pandemic.

Stanford's men's and women's teams, both ranked No. 1 in the nation in the latest Golfweek/Sagarin rankings, pulled out a 4-2 victory on a warm fall day at Menlo CC, with the duos of Dean Greyserman & Brooke Seay, Ethan Ng & Sadie Englemann, Karl Vilips & Rachel Heck and Michael Thorbjornsen & Rose Zhang all notching victories for the Cardinal.

The teams of Aaron Du & Cristina Ochoa and Sampson Zheng & Jieming Yang accounted for the Golden Bears' victories.

Here is a match-by-match breakdown of the Big Match, courtesy of Stanford Athletics.

• • • • •

Dean Greyserman/Brooke Seay (Stanford) 3&2 Jeewon Park/Adora Liu (Cal)
Earned Stanford's first point of the day with a 3&2 victory...trailed by one at the turn and remained that way through No. 12...won four straight holes to close out the match...were five-under as a pair, and took a commanding lead with three straight birdies on Nos. 13-15.

Aaron Du/Christina Ochoa (Cal) 2&1 Alex Yang/Megha Ganne (Stanford)
Cal earned its first point with a 2&1 victory...Bears were 4 up through 13, but Cardinal battled back with wins at No. 14 and 16 to get the match to 17th, where all four players birdied to give Bears the victory.

Ethan Ng/Sadie Englemann (Stanford) 2&1 Jasmine Lew/Daniel Heo (Cal)
Tight match throughout, as neither team led by more than one hole until the Cardinal went 2 up on No. 15...Cal led by one after 11 holes, but Englemann birdied No. 12 and Ng birdied No. 13 to springboard Cardinal to 1up lead...an Ng birdie on No. 15 gave Stanford a 2up lead, and Cardinal would clinch with ties on Nos. 16 and 17 to win the match.

Sampson Zheng/Cissy Yang (Cal) 1up Barclay Brown/Caroline Sturdza
The last match came down to the final hole, with Cal's Sampson Zheng making a birdie putt to win the match...Cardinal won four holes, while Bears won five in the match.

Karl Vilips/Rachel Heck (Stanford) 4&2 Tony Chen/Mika Jin (Cal)
Almost as dominating as Thorbjornsen and Zhang, Vilips and Heck won 4&2 to clinch the match with Stanford's fourth point of the day...the pair only dropped one hole all day, while winning five holes themselves...had a 3up lead through 8 and maintained a 2up lead through 14...a birdie by Heck on No. 15 and Vilips on No. 16 gave the duo, and the good guys, a victory.

Michael Thorbjornsen/Rose Zhang (Stanford) 5&4 Nathan Wang/Annika Borrelli (Cal)
Shortly after Ng and Englemann clinched Stanford's second point, Thorbjornsen and Zhang clinched its third, 5&4...Cardinal never trailed in the match, as the two sides alternated wins on each of the first five holes...with Stanford 1up through 7, both Cardinal golfers birdied No. 8 and Thorbjornsen birdied No. 9 to go 3up at the turn...the two sides would tie the first three holes on the back nine, before arguably shot of the day...with Thorbjornsen in trouble on the short, par 4, No. 13, Zhang chipped in from off the green for eagle to put Stanford 4 up, and pars by both players on No. 14 clinched the match.

Cal Athletics contributed to this report.

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