Stanford golfer had to miss Commencement to compete at U.S. Open

After competing in the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on Sunday, June 16 - Commencement - Stanford golfer Brandon Wu received his diploma from tournament officials.

While most members of the Class of 2019 were packing Stanford Stadium for Commencement this past Sunday, June 16, Stanford golfer and product design major Brandon Wu was competing with the pros at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Although missing Commencement wasn’t ideal for Wu, Stanford Athletics officials and tournament organizers made sure his academic accomplishments weren’t overlooked.

Brandon Wu, center, poses with his family after receiving his Stanford diploma. (Image credit: Courtesy Brandon Wu)

After competing in the final round, Wu was escorted to the 18th green. There, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, he was greeted by a camera crew and U.S. Golf Association President-Elect Stu Francis, MBA ’77, who presented Wu with his Stanford diploma.

"That was a total surprise," Wu said.

Earlier this month, Wu qualified for the U.S. Open. Thanks to his performance in the first two rounds, he made the cut and advanced to the final round, which coincided with Stanford’s 128th Commencement ceremony.

"It was an unfortunate overlap because I really did want to be with my classmates and do the Wacky Walk," Wu said. "It would’ve been a really cool memory to have."

But competing at the Open was an experience Wu won’t soon forget. He finished 1-over par to tie for 35th and was also the second-best amateur to finish in the tournament. He said one of the biggest highlights of the day was the opportunity to compete with the pros, including former world No. 1 ranked golfer Dustin Johnson, whom he was able to meet.

"He’s someone I have grown up watching, so it was cool to be peers with him," Wu said.

Spring quarter is a busy time at Stanford, particularly for graduating seniors, and Wu is no exception. In addition to qualifying for and competing in the U.S. Open, Wu helped lift the 12th-ranked Stanford men’s golf team to a national championship. As an individual player, he was also named to the U.S. team for the 2019 Arnold Palmer Cup. In the midst of his golf activities, he also managed to complete his bachelor’s degree in engineering.

Wu is a native of Danville, California, and grew up in Scarsdale, New York. He returned to California in 2015 when he enrolled at Stanford, which he felt had the most to offer among his college options.

"I thought Stanford was definitely the best combination of great academics and athletics. It was the perfect mix for both," he said.

Brandon Wu, ’19, competing in the NCAA Division 1 Golf Championships. (Image credit: Courtesy Stanford Athletics)

Since competing at the U.S. Open, Wu has returned home to New York, where he is preparing for a whirlwind summer of competitions. He hopes to qualify for the upcoming British Open, and is already set to compete at the Porter Cup in Niagara Falls, New York, in July and the Western Amateur competition in Benton Harbor, Michigan, shortly after. He was also selected to play at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru.

Wu said he intends to turn pro later this year, but isn’t ruling out a return to academia somewhere down the road.

"When you’re an undergrad and playing a sport, there’s only so much you can do, so it might be refreshing to go back to school," he said, adding that he has a variety of paths to pursue.

Reflecting on his recent achievements as an individual player and with the Stanford men’s golf team, Wu said they were a great way to end his undergraduate life at Stanford.

"The national championship was such a cool experience, and obviously this other stuff is just icing on the cake," he said. "It’s such a surreal ending to my college career."