After having had three weeks off, the Yale men’s golf team returned to the golf course Saturday, finishing second.
The Elis came up behind Harvard at the 10-team Yale Spring Opener, an event marred by poor conditions.
The Bulldogs, with all five members playing two rounds over one day, shot a collective 610, while the Crimson shot 15 shots fewer, to finish with a score of 595 and defend their title once again.
Despite their runner-up finish, the team had high expectations for Saturday and left feeling unsatisfied.
“We know that we could have played a lot better,” Taylor Hakes ’09 said.
Rather than receiving any standout performances from their players, the Elis’ strength Saturday came from the consistency of their play. There was only a four-shot difference between the Bulldogs’ highest and lowest scorers, as Jeff Hatten ’12 led the team with a 151 (+11), while Colby Moore ’09 finished last on the team with a score of 155 (+15).
“The team is very talented from top to bottom,” head coach Colin Sheehan said. “I’m fortunate that there’s such serious competition among them to make the travel squad.”
Hatten’s total was enough for him to finish tied for seventh individually, but if he had continued playing the way he started in the first round, he could have finished significantly higher. His first round 70 (E) was enough to be tied for the tournament’s individual lead.
Led by Hatten’s strong score, Yale went into the second round in second place, five shots behind Harvard. Moore, at the time, was second on the team with a 74 (+4), and the other three team members each had a 76 (+6).
Although the word “spring” may have been in the tournament’s name, the conditions outside suggested otherwise.
“The conditions — spells of cold rain and gusting, high winds — were as difficult as I’ve ever seen at the course,” Sheehan said.
With wind, cold temperatures and rain all in the mix outside, each team’s troubles increased in the second round, as the conditions deteriorated and the players became tired. Harvard proved to have better stamina, however, as their players averaged only a 4–shot increase in their scores, whereas the Bulldogs saw their individual scores increase an average of 4.6-shots in the second round.
Oddly, the two worst scores that were posted by the Elis in their second round came from Hatten and Moore, who led the team after the first round, but who both shot a score of 81 (+11) in the second.
Although this was hardly the first time the Bulldogs had met the Crimson on a golf course this year, it was the first time that Harvard had finished ahead of Yale. The two teams met for the first time in October at the three-round MacDonald Cup, which was also held at the Yale Golf Course. At that time, Yale finished in second, a full 24 shots ahead of Harvard, who finished tied for sixth.
Yale also finished 24 shots ahead of Harvard last month at the Geico Intercollegiate in Savannah, Ga. The Bulldogs were fifth in that tournament, while the Crimson ended in ninth place.
Despite their previously stronger performances, Sheehan does not feel that the team made the mistake of underestimating their opponents.
“[Harvard] were the defending champs,” Sheehan said. “I don’t know what it is, but Harvard seems to play well at the Yale course in the spring.”
The Bulldogs will have three other opportunities to avenge the loss to Harvard this month, as both will travel to the Princeton Invitational, the Caves Valley Spring Intercollegiate and the Ivy League Championships over the next three weeks, respectively.
“Everyone on the team expected to win the tournament, but we’re still optimistic about next week and our chances at winning [the Ivy League Championship],” Hakes said.