A trip west was no Califronia dream for the men’s golf team.
Despite a solid final round Tuesday, the Bulldogs finished last in the 16-team Prestige Tournament held at the PGA West Golf Course in La Quinta, Calif. The Elis, who shot a total three-round score of 983, finished 26 strokes behind 15th place Northern Colorado in the Bulldogs’ most competitive tournament of the fall season. UCLA successfully defended their 2003 win at The Prestige with a score of 904.
The competition the Bulldogs encountered at The Prestige was clearly the toughest they have faced this season. The field included three teams ranked in the top 15 nationally, including No. 6 Texas Christian, No. 11 UCLA and No. 14 Brigham Young. Nearly half of the teams competing rank in the Top 50. Despite the high level of competition, Yale was not pleased with its performance.
“The Prestige was a disappointing tournament for us,” captain Steve Gray ’05 said. “The final round was better and is something to build on for this spring. We’ll need to find five consistent performers like we had in the beginning of the fall season in order to achieve our goals.”
The team quickly fell behind the first day, with a two-round total of 665, landing the Bulldogs in 16th place. They did bounce back Tuesday with a score of 318, 15 strokes better than Monday’s two-round average. But the hole the Bulldogs had dug was too deep to overcome and the Elis were unable to improve on their last place standing.
Throughout the season, the Bulldogs have been plagued by poor short games that offset strong tee and approach shots. Yale experienced the exact opposite at The Prestige as they were not able to consistently hit long drives.
While the team struggled as a whole, several individuals provided highlights throughout the tournament. Andrew Vitt ’05 had perhaps the shot of the competition when he sunk a hole-in-one on the Par 3 seventh hole of the second round. While Vitt provided the fireworks, Mark Matza ’07 provided much needed consistency throughout all three rounds. Matza shot a three-round total of 231, putting him at 15 over par, including a final round three-over 75. His performance was not only the best by a Bulldog, but was also good for a tie for 22nd in the field of 84 golfers.
“Despite a great performance by Mark, most of us really struggled,” Gray said. “He drives the ball so well that he can play any course well.”
The Prestige Tournament ends the Bulldogs’ 2004 fall season, a campaign filled with a fair share of highs and lows. The story of the season was a talented and equipped Yale team that struggled to stay consistent in individual tournaments and the season as a whole.
“We did not finish the fall season as we had hoped,” Matza said. “A couple of missed opportunities seemed to slip away. The team, I am sure, will work hard over the winter and spring break, and we will hopefully come out strong to begin the spring season. Our main goal is to win Ivy’s, and there is no question this team can accomplish that goal.”
After a four month hiatus, the Bulldogs will resume play March 11 with the GEICO Direct Tournament in Savannah, Ga.