Before this year’s fall season got underway, Sean Gaudette ’14 articulated a goal that many of the Bulldogs players surely have on their minds: to win an Ivy League championship at the end of the spring season. And with most of the core players that made the squad the favorite to win the championship last year returning for this season, expectations certainly remain high for the team.
Yale wasted no time jumping back into the thick of competition to start this season. The team traveled to Southampton, N.Y., on Saturday to compete against Texas A&M in a match at The Bridge Golf Course. While the Elis fell in the competition, they amassed some valuable experience against one of the top teams in the country.
“It felt great to get back out on the course and compete alongside my teammates,” Gaudette said. “And to do it against a nationally recognized powerhouse like Texas A&M on a championship venue made it even more enjoyable.”
The event marked the first time that the players had stepped onto the golf course to represent Yale since faltering at the Ivy League championship meet last April. Despite leading Ivies entering their final day, the Bulldogs ended up finishing second to Princeton in an intensely competitive affair.
In Texas A&M, the Bulldogs found themselves facing a top opponent to open the season. The Aggies won the national championship in 2009 and finished 23rd in the final NCAA Division I poll last year.
“A&M is one of the best programs in the country and proved it, playing airtight golf all day,” Will Davenport ’15 said. “We have to tip our caps to them.”
The Aggies showed their pedigree early in the 36-round event, as their top four golfers combined for a six-over first round score. The Elis struggled to counter effectively, as they were led by Joe Willis ’16 and Gaudette, who posted scores of three-over and four-over, respectively.
The Elis’ top performers improved markedly in the second round of the day. Captain Sam Bernstein ’14 shot a two-under 70, while Davenport scored a 73. The team overall scored a 299 over the course of the second round of 18.
“Across the board, I think most of our players were disappointed with how they played,” Gaudette said.
While the impressive scores put up by the Aggie competitors made it a tough day for the Bulldogs, the difficulty of the golf course at The Bridge certainly contributed to the Elis’ struggles.
Gaudette noted that the course offered very little respite from its inherent difficulty, as the greens played very fast and approach shots required a high degree of accuracy. Adding to the challenge was the fact that a strong breeze blew throughout much of the day’s event.
“It was definitely a great experience and start to the season,” Davenport said. “We are looking forward to next weekend, where we will again face a strong field.”
The Elis will continue their season next weekend at the McLaughlin at the famed Bethpage State Park Golf Courses. The tournament will take place on the Red course.