A streak of three straight second-place finishes is an impressive record for the Bulldog men’s golf program, but being beaten out by Harvard the past two weekends has not sat well with the team.
At the annual Yale Spring Invitational, the Yale men’s golf team took second place with a score of 586, falling 13 strokes shy of Harvard’s title-taking score of 573. In the one-day tournament, the conditions were atypical and Harvard played consistently to top a field that included Dartmouth, Brown, Hartford, Fordham, Central Connecticut State University, Wagner, UMass-Lowell and Holy Cross.
“In a one-day tournament, you either have it or you don’t,” Will Davenport ’15 said. “Harvard had it and we didn’t. We played poorly in the morning and they played well, and 36 holes is not enough time to make up a deficit like that.”
Davenport finished 11th at the end of competition, with a total score of 148 split between a first round of 77 and a second round of 71.
Just one stroke ahead of Davenport was Jonathan Lai ’17, who ended in a tie for ninth with a score breakdown of 75 in the first round and 72 in the second round. Joe Willis ’16, however, was the Elis’ top performer in the invitational.
Willis shot a 74 and 69 in the two rounds, respectively, for a total score of 143 — enough to put him in a tie for third place. Willis was the only Bulldog to finish in the top five.
Willis said that Harvard’s biggest strength was consistency. He added that four out of Harvard’s starting five players finished in the top five as individuals.
Just as consistency was the key to Harvard’s success, Willis also attributed his performance to consistent play throughout both rounds.
“For me, I didn’t putt very well, but I hit the ball pretty solid all day,” Willis said. “I hit a lot of fairways and greens and played the par threes well, which are some of the tougher holes out there.”
Playing consistently is easy when the course lies as expected — but according to members of the team, it’s the uncontrollable that tests golfers’ abilities to perform under all conditions.
At the Spring Invitational, there were strong winds typical of the spring season, however, the course was much faster than usual.
“The course was playing uncharacteristically firm and fast for this time of year,” Sean Gaudette ’14 said. “That, along with the strong wind, made for very difficult conditions. This was reflected in the scoring in that there were only three rounds under par all day.”
With two straight finishes behind the Crimson, the Bulldogs said they have a bitter taste in their mouths. In preparation for the Ivy League Championships next week, the Bulldogs are getting ready to take their last shot at the Crimson this season.
“Losing to Harvard back-to-back weeks doesn’t sit well with us,” Davenport said. “We are really looking forward to the Ivy League championships this weekend after back to back disappointing weeks.”
The Elis will tee off on April 25 at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. for the three-day Ivy tournament.