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The Competitor

The Competitor

By Matt Morgan

Photo courtesy Santa Clara Athletics
Hayden Shieh ’18 did a lot of winning on the links this year, making his second straight trip to the NCAA regionals and nearly grabbing a WCC championship.

Hayden Shieh ’18 started on the road to his golf career on a pitcher’s mound. He was in little league. He was a strong kid with a live arm. His coach wanted him to be a pitcher. He did not want to be a pitcher.

“I hit like six guys in a row and I cried,” Shieh remembers. “I felt sorry for them. They were afraid. They were like ‘This guy’s going to hit me and he throws fast.’

“I just kept hitting people.”

Next came soccer. Fewer tears, but too boring. Then he started playing golf with his dad at Pin High, a small three-hole course near Levi’s Stadium. He liked the solitude of it. He had friends who played. Before long, he was playing in tournaments and winning. He even beat his father (dad gave up the game shortly thereafter).

“Out there playing golf, I’m on my own,” Shieh says. “If I lost, it’s because of me not because of someone else. I really like that about golf.”

Shieh did a lot of winning this year. He qualified for the NCAA tournament for the third straight year and regionals for the second time—the first golfer in school history to pull that off. He nearly became the first SCU golfer to win the WCC title but lost in a playoff. In total, he competed in 10 events as a junior, posting seven top-10 finishes and four top-three showings in his final six tournaments.

Always a big hitter, Shieh improved his accuracy: finding more fairways and in turn more greens. His putting improved, too.

For the second straight year, Shieh’s season ended in the regional. He bounced back from a rough opening round—six over 76—to play par golf the final two days. He finished 38th, eight shots off the lead.

From Shieh, you get honesty. Almost always. He says one of the best parts of being a college golfer is playing on amazing courses. But Stanford Golf Course, host of the regional tournament? “I hate it,” he says. “I was hitting it well all three days. It’s just some days I could putt, some days I couldn’t.”

Luckily, there was plenty to love about his season and, only a junior, he’ll be back next year.

“I’m proud of him for hanging in there on a course he doesn’t enjoy playing,” head coach Rob Miller said. “Going in I thought he had as good a chance as anyone to win the thing. But after that first day he fell short of his goal.”

Shieh starts an internship with Ernst & Young in the coming weeks. He hopes to fit in some weekend tournaments, too.

“That’s the first taste in the real work force instead of on the golf course working,” Shieh says. “I think it’ll be fun.”

 

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