Playoff finalizes m. golf traveling team

All the men’s golf team wants is a little bit of prestige.

The squad’s final tournament of the fall season — The Prestige in La Quinta, Calif. — will take place on Nov. 4 and 5. Five members of the traveling roster have braved rain and cold to get in gear for one of the program’s biggest tournaments of the year.

Andrew Vitt ’05 singled out The Prestige as the Bulldogs’ most important tournament so far because of the strong competition. Texas Christian University, ranked 10th in the nation, and Vanderbilt, ranked 12th, are among the field of 18.

A good finish in California, Vitt said, would give the team a lot of confidence for the spring season.

Vitt was among five players who competed in a playoff for the final three spots on the five-man traveling roster last weekend. He made the cut.

Captain Neel Williams ’03 and Steve Gray ’05 had already secured the first two spots through consistent tournament play over the last two months. Brian Kim ’06 and Alex Fulton ’04 were the other two lowest scorers in the playoff and will head to La Quinta.

The playoff consisted of 36 holes over two days at the Yale Golf Course. The contest came down to the wire with Fulton edging out Ben Levy ’04 in an extra one-hole, sudden-death playoff.

Vitt described the in-house competition as, “pretty intense, but fun.”

The Prestige will be Kim’s first opportunity to travel with the team and his first collegiate tournament away from Yale. Kim played on the B team in the Yale-hosted MacDonald Cup in September.

“I am pretty excited,” Kim said. “It’s the largest event we have, maybe even up until regionals.”

In preparation, Kim said he practices four to six times a week and plans to practice every day next week. A Kentucky native, Kim said he has had to adjust to New England weather.

“It helps you focus when you’re a little bit out of your element,” Kim said.

But Kim cannot adjust too much to New England golf conditions. Williams said California golf requires sharp wedge play, and he has practiced his wedge game daily in preparation for the west coast swing.

Vitt is looking forward to the change of scenery.

“It’s going to be good to get some warm weather and play some top-ranked teams,” Vitt said.

Because The Prestige’s strong field will have teams that could compete for the national championship this year, team members said they would be satisfied with a top-10 finish.

“Anything finishing in the middle up — that would be a good finish,” Williams said.

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