The Yale men’s golf team proved that it will be a formidable threat in the Ivy League Championship, as the Elis finished second in the 14-team Princeton Invitational on Sunday, good enough to rank first among the six Ivy League schools at the competition.
Tied for sixth, behind Ivy rivals Columbia, Princeton and Harvard, after playing their round on Saturday, the Bulldogs staged a comeback on Sunday by improving upon the previous round’s score and capitalizing on their opponents’ struggles.
The Bulldogs, who were entering Sunday with a score of 305, shot the best round of the day with a 300 — a feat made all the more difficult by wind and rain that was persistent throughout the day.
The Elis, in fact, were one of only three teams to have their second round be better than their first.
“We went to the U.K. last year and got a lot of practice in the wind, so I think that helped us,” Taylor Hakes ’09 said. “A lot of the other teams probably didn’t have that practice and were not ready for the conditions.”
Despite the difficult conditions, Hakes improved his score by six strokes, leading all teams with a 70 (-1) for the day and making him the only player to break par in the entire tournament. He finished second overall in individual standings.
“[Hakes] led the charge for us,” teammate Ben Wescoe ’10 said. “It’s good to have some solid senior leadership out there for us.”
The rest of the Yale team did not allow the conditions to bother them, either. Tom McCarthy ’11, Wescoe and Jeff Hatten ’12 all had the same scores — 75 (+4), 76 (+5), and 79 (+8), respectively — that they had shot in the previous round.
Although the comeback was not enough for the Bulldogs to catch Rutgers, who had an 11-shot lead over Yale after the first round, by the end of the tournament the Bulldogs had narrowed the Scarlet Knights’ lead to nine shots and had, in the process, passed four opponents. Columbia, which had a seven-shot lead over Yale on Saturday, concluded Sunday’s round with a score of 315, causing them to finish in fourth place, eight shots behind the Elis.
After finishing early in the afternoon, the team drove to coach Colin Sheehan’s country club to eat a celebratory dinner and watch the conclusion of the Masters. While driving to the club, the team even used Sheehan’s iPhone to track the results.
“Everybody on the team was rooting for Tiger, but we wanted Cabrera to win at the end,” Hakes said.
With only two weeks left before the Ivy League Championships, the team is setting their focus on next weekend’s Caves Valley Spring Intercollegiate in Owings Mills, Md., where the Bulldogs will face seven other teams, including five from the Ivy League.
“We already knew that we can win the Ivies, but it definitely helps to have the result [of this tournament] in the back of our minds,” Hakes said.