While Trevor Immelman was winning the green jacket at the Masters in Augusta, Colby Moore ’09 won his own championship Sunday.
Moore lead the Bulldogs to the New England Division I Championship at Triggs Golf Club in Providence, R.I., their first tournament win in almost five years. They shot 583 for the weekend, finishing four strokes ahead of second-place Binghamton and 15 strokes ahead of fourth-place Harvard, who won the Yale Spring Opener the previous weekend.
The team’s last victory was at the Dartmouth Invitational on Sep. 21, 2003.
Individually, the Bulldogs topped the competition as well, with Moore and Ben Wescoe ’10 finishing in first and second place, respectively. Moore shot a four-under 140 for the weekend, while Wescoe finished one-under at 143.
While the tournament victory may have come as no surprise to the confident team members, Bulldog fans surely had no reason to expect such a dominant performance this weekend. The Elis finished 14th at the Lacrosse Homes Collegiate Tournament after spring break and then followed with a disappointing performance at the Yale Spring Opener, where the team finished eighth and failed to capitalized on its home-course advantage.
Looking closer at their scores, however, some signs of the potential breakthrough were apparent last week. The Bulldogs were second as a team in birdies for the tournament, with only double and triple bogeys on certain problematic holes lowering the team’s scores.
“The key to the breakthrough was limiting the big numbers on holes,” Moore said.
As always in golf, players said increased diligence, hard work and practice helped rectify the problem.
“We had a strong focus and purpose psychologically behind our game this weekend,” Joe Hernandez ’08 said.
The big numbers at the Yale Spring Opener were often the result of poor putting by the Bulldogs, who complained of shoddy green conditions resulting from the course’s not being ready after the long winter. This weekend, however, was a different story.
“The greens were quick but true, which allowed us to make more puts,” Moore said. “We hadn’t played on good greens yet this season.”
The Elis came out firing Saturday, figuratively and literally, taking a commanding lead after only nine holes. Already through the first nine, Tom McCarthy ’11 was at three-under par individually, an impressive scorecard for even the best professionals.
Yale rode that early success, finishing in first place and two strokes ahead of Binghamton on Saturday. Sunday, it was more of the same, as the Elis extended their final lead two more strokes behind Moore’s bogey-free round and Wescoe’s hitting 17 of 18 greens.
While course conditions and strategy certainly helped the Elis, players pointed to the team’s simply coming together at the right time to explain the great performance.
“Everybody clicked this weekend and started playing well,” Moore said. “The tough thing about college golf is putting four good scores out of five guys together.”
While Moore and Wescoe led the team, every team member turned in a solid performance. McCarthy, Taylor Hakes ’09 and Hernandez finished in 10th, 24th and 26th place, respectively.
“One through five, each of us can individually win a tournament,” Wescoe said. “We don’t have any weak players.”
Looking ahead to the Ivy League Championship at Galloway National next weekend, the Bulldogs hope their success will carry over, particularly after defeating Harvard, Dartmouth and Brown at the New England Division I Championship.
The tournament should again test the Elis’ continuing putting improvement.
“The greens are fast and undulating [at Galloway National],” Wescoe said. “The tournament will be won and lost on the greens, though you still have to hit the ball well in order to be successful.”
Overall, the Bulldogs are playing their best golf of the season right now, which is right where they want to be with a chance to qualify for the NCAA Championship on the line next weekend.
“Our goal after our first poor showing [after spring break] was to improve every tournament and peak at the Ivy League Championship,” Moore said. “The win really pushes us to the front of the pack for next week.”