The men’s golf team proved it’s still an Ivy League powerhouse Sunday at its first match of the season, defeating Harvard and Princeton decisively in a tri-match event at the Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, NY.
Unlike the stroke-play format more commonly used in collegiate golf, in match play golfers compete against one player from each of the other teams in the quest to win the most holes in one round of golf. Yale finished first, winning eight of the 10 matches, while Harvard took second place in front of the Tigers.
A mix of old and new Bulldog talent rose to the occasion in the Eli win. Brad Kushner ’13 defeated Bernie D’Amato of Princeton and Mark Pollak of Harvard 6 and 4, meaning that he had shot lower scores than his opponents on six more holes by the time there were only four holes remaining on the 18-hole course. Since Kushner had already attained an insurmountable lead, there was no need to complete the final four holes. Captain Tom McCarthy ’11 defeated Evan Harmeling of Princeton 6 and 4 and Antonio Grillo of Harvard 4 and 3, while Jeff Hatten ’12 beat Princeton’s Patrick Wasserman 5 and 4 and Harvard’s Conner Wentzel one-up, meaning that Hatten shot lower scores on one more hole than Wentzel after 18 holes.
Head coach Colin Sheehan ’97 said he was particularly impressed by the play of Kushner, who was competing for the first time at the number one seed.
“I wouldn’t say there was added pressure playing number one,” Kushner said. “I just wanted to represent Yale in a nice fashion.”
Finally, freshman standout Sam Bernstein ’14 proved he’s more than ready for collegiate-level competition, crushing Harvard’s Theodore Lederhausen 8 and 7, while edging out Princeton’s Eric Salazar 2 and 1.
“I never really got to experience what it was like to play with a team at an event [in high school],” Bernstein said. “The feeling that I got on the range and when I was playing was different … I think it can only help my golf just because we have such a great team.”
On the road to victory, Bernstein said, the team faced 20 mph winds blowing sideways, but adjusted accordingly.
While both McCarthy and Sheehan described the competition as “friendly,” Sheehan said any occasion to play against Harvard and Princeton is one the team would like to win.
In addition to an opportunity to play against Ivy League competition, Sheehan said the Sebonack Golf Course itself — a championship venue with seaside views — was a welcome opportunity for the Elis.
Yale will play in the Adams Cup on Sept. 20 and 21 in Newport, R.I.
McCarthy added that while it is nice to have one victory under the team’s belt, Harvard has two talented freshmen who he thinks did not play to their full potential.
“It’s good to have taken an early lead,” Sheehan said of the victory against Harvard and Princeton. “But there is still going to be plenty of golf to be played [this season].”