Stackhouse: Golf's Next Big Thing

2013 08 Stackhouse

Regular readers of bunkered might recall that, back in 2011, we identified 20 players under the age of 20 who we reckoned were set for big futures.

One of those who Mariah Stackhouse. Then aged 17, we reported how she was 'one of the most talked-about players in the US', having taken up the game at the age of two, entered her first event at the age of six, and managed to shoot 29 for nine holes by the time she turned nine.

We were confident she was one of golf's 'Next Big Things' - and it seems we were spot-on in that assessment.

Now in her freshman year at Stanford University, Stackhouse shot a record-breaking 61 in the famous institution's first tournament of the year, including a front nine which required just 26 - that's right, twenty-six - shots.

One of her coaches at Stanford is Scotland's former LPGA and Solheim Cup star Kathryn Imrie and she is hugely excited by the Georgia golfer's potential.

"Mariah (pictured with Olympic superstar Usain Bolt) has come to Stanford University as, arguably, the most accomplished player to date," said Imrie.

"What a thrill it was to feel the buzz around Stanford Golf Course as she was making birdies and eagles as if the game were easy. It reminded me of the day Annika Sorenstam shot 59 at Moon Valley Country Club in Phoenix. In fact, after Mariah holed a lengthy putt on the ninth to go out in 26, I nudged her mum and said she could shoot in the 50s. Had it not been for a couple of hiccups at 13 and 14, she could have."

Recounting the day's events, Imrie added: "Mariah had said to Coach Anne Walker before her round, 'Coach, I am going to shoot 67 today.' Anne replied, 'Well, that's great, but how about breaking the course record of 63?' Apparently, a serious frown on Mariah's face was followed by her larger-than-life smile and a 'Yeah, I can do that' response and off she went.

"Thanks to social media and live scoring, word soon got out that Mariah Stackhouse from Stanford was going crazy. Another birdie went in at the par-3 fourth, and another at the fifth to make her five-under through five, and when her eagle putt dropped on the seventh to go seven-under, Mariah said she was in a 'dream state'.

"Incredibly, the dream continued with a three-foot birdie putt on the eighth, and then at the ninth a 'snake' went in to make her scorecard look like this on the front nine: 3, 3, 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 3. Simply put, it was astonishing! Twenty-six over nine holes has been matched by Corey Pavin but not by any other woman and certainly not in the college world.
The back nine looked like this 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 4, 4, 2, 4.

"As Mariah finished the ninth and walked up the hill to the tenth tee, I casually asked her if she needed some lunch. She had shared with me, on the third hole, that her battery for her viewfinder had died on the first hole. Instead of getting flustered and panicking, she whispered she was having fun doing the yardages the old fashioned way, i.e. pacing it off! The funny thing was, I actually had a spare battery for her when I saw her at the tent, but I thought she was doing just fine the old fashioned way and made decision not to interrupt her flow. Come to think of it, she may never get a replacement battery after shooting 61!

"The back nine for Mariah was a little more of a roller coaster. A three-putt bogey ensued at the 13th  followed by another at the tricky par-3 14th, but as she played the homeward stretch, she added two more birdies at the 16th and 17th. A birdie chance at the last for a 60 was not to be due to a misread but she calmly polished off a knee-knocker to make history and officially score a course record 61. The back nine looked like this 4, 4, 4, 5, 4, 4, 4, 2, 4.

"Mariah was modest and gracious in accepting the Individual Trophy at the awards ceremony. She thanked her team, her coaches, the golf course staff, her fans and God. She was just as composed after all the excitement as she was knocking long drives down the fairway and putting with a firm focus."

Imrie couldn't help but draw parallels between Stackhouse and another famous Stanford alumnus: Tiger Woods.

"It is far too early to say that this was Mariah's 'Hello world' moment, due to the fickle nature of this sport, so lets call it her "Hello college world' moment," she said. "Mariah also possesses a mega-watt smile similar to Tiger and I have a feeling we are going to be seeing her version a lot more in the years to come, especially if she continues to re-write the history books."

Mariah Stackhouse: remember the name! You heard it here first!

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