The men’s golf team was not disappointed with a team score of 294 and a share of the lead after the first round of the Dartmouth Invitational Saturday. But Sunday’s sizzling total of 284 that left the competition in the dust was more of what they had in mind.
For the second straight week, the Bulldogs — ranked a school-best No. 15 in the country — benefited from a strong team outing, winning the two-day Dartmouth Invitational by a 7-stroke margin at the Hanover Country Club. Junior captain Neel Williams’ two rounds of even-par 70 paced the collective effort and gave Williams a second-place finish among individual players.
“[Sunday] was the best competitive round our team has played since I have been here,” said Ben Levy ’04, whose 9-over total of 149 tied him for 26th. “It was nice to step it up and pull away from the field and make it a convincing victory.”
Central Connecticut State was Yale’s nearest competitor in the field of 17 schools, which included Ivy rivals Dartmouth, Harvard, Brown and Columbia. After Saturday, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Binghamton were tied for the lead, with four other schools within five shots. No team came close to matching Yale’s 284 on Sunday.
In that final round, four of the five Eli golfers improved on their Saturday numbers. Steve Gray ’05 went from 73 to 71, Levy from 76 to 73, and Alex Fulton ’04 went from 76 to 74. Freshman Gabe Borrud made the biggest jump, overcoming a shaky start on Sunday to turn in an even-par 70, 5 strokes better than his Saturday 75. Each school’s top four individual scores count toward its team total.
“I am really excited to have Gabe playing in the top five,” Williams said. “One thing that we have been lacking on our team is an explosive talent, which I think he has. He can put a lot of birdies together.”
Considering his back-to-back rounds at even par, Williams could hardly be faulted for being the only Yale player not to lower his score Sunday. Consistent iron play was the strength of his game this weekend, Williams said. As a result, the Louisiana native posted a 3-under-par total on par 3’s, the best showing on the short holes in the tournament.
“I was really pleased to play as well as I did,” Williams said. “I was happy to be able to finally lead the team.”
The win at Dartmouth concluded four rounds in a row of solid play from the Yale team. Last week in the 54-hole Macdonald Cup at the Yale Golf Course, the Bulldogs’ first-round total of 309 put them 13 strokes off the lead. Scores of 292 and 290 — the best numbers posted over the final two rounds — were not enough to catch the University of Rhode Island, but it gave Yale a second-place finish and a reason to expect success in Hanover.
“I kind of saw this coming,” Gray said. “I don’t know if we have ever shot that low at the Yale course. That just says something about our potential this year.”
Levy may have capitalized the most on the momentum from the last two rounds at Yale. Playing on Yale’s second team in the Macdonald Cup, Levy followed up an opening round 79 with a 71 and a 72 over the final 36 holes. That performance earned him one of the five spots on the first team and a resulting trip to Dartmouth.
The team returns to competition Oct. 6-9 at the Adams Cup in Newport, R.I. — one of the premier college golf tournaments in the Northeast. After four solid team rounds in nine days, Williams said the team now has the challenge of sustaining its current momentum over the span of two full weeks.
“You can’t rest on your laurels and admire what you have done,” he said.