The conditions on the Yale Golf Course were ideal for the Macdonald Cup tournament this past weekend, and the men’s golf team rose to the occasion with an appropriately sterling performance.
Taylor Hakes ’09 shot 142 (69-73) to become the first Bulldog to win the Macdonald Cup since Bob Heintz won in 1991, and the Elis as a team finished second among the 26 teams present.
Hakes, referred to as the “Shark” by his teammates, topped the leader board after the first day of competition. The junior continued to play consistently on the second day in spite of stiff competition from Texas Christian University’s top golfers, Travis Woolf and Tom Hoge.
“I made my putts, which was the main thing that helped me win my rounds,” Hakes said. “I was a little nervous out there, but I kept my head in the game.”
After a frustrating performance in the season-opening Adams Cup two weeks ago, team members said they refused to doubt themselves. That perspective helped them compete well during the tournament, they said.
Hakes’s teammates said they were ecstatic about the victory and think Hakes’s individual victory is a sign of what the rest of the team can accomplish.
“I’m very proud of the Shark,” Ben Wescoe ’10 said. “It’s a huge win for him and for the program because it shows that all of us can win.”
Hakes’ victorious performance was matched by the team’s overall solid play. The Bulldogs finished in second place behind TCU, the 49th-ranked golf program in the nation. Hakes said the fact that the team was able to compete with TCU, consistently one of the country’s better teams, is an indication of their potential.
The Bulldogs shot 578 (286-292) over the course of two days, just five strokes off of TCU. Captain Andrew Denenberg ’08 said he hopes the team continues its momentum and plays steady golf.
“The team played probably the best golf we’ve played as a team since I’ve been here,” he said.
The other members of the team put in strong performances to help the team earn second place. Colby Moore ’09 and Thomas McCarthy ’11 tied for sixth place with 145 (71-74), while Wescoe shot 149 (78-71) to tie for 21st place.
Hakes said he thinks the team’s performance at the Macdonald Cup will be a stepping stone toward a strong season and a possible birth in the NCAA regionals, the last stop on the way to the national championship tournament.
The other five Ivy League teams represented at the tournament were no match for the Bulldogs. Dartmouth shot 602 (305-297) to finish in fourth place, while Harvard trailed in fifth place after shooting 603 (300-303).
The Bulldogs said they are optimistic about the rest of the season, especially since freshmen McCarthy and Brandon Marick ’11 are already making solid contributions to the team. Hakes’s victory and the team’s impressive performance are signs of an exciting time in Yale’s golf program, Wescoe said.
“There’s a lot of the unity on the team,” he said. “Everyone is optimistic and happy with the way things are going. It’s just a great time for Yale golf and we’re looking to continue our strong play the next two weekends.”
The Elis will compete in the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships in Rhode Island next weekend.