Facing a strong field and a hallowed golf course, the men’s golf team had mixed results in its first tournament of the fall season.
At the Adams Cup in Newport, R.I., the Bulldogs placed 13th out of 17 teams in the two-day event that concluded yesterday. In his first collegiate tournament, Steve Gray ’05 was the low scorer for the Bulldogs, shooting a three-round total of 8 over par, 219, good for 23rd place in the event.
“We played pretty solidly for the most part,” Gray said. “Nobody really took it low, but we don’t have anything to hang our heads about.”
With a three round total of 885, the Bulldogs finished 31 shots behind the winner, nationally ranked New Mexico. But the Elis were a mere three shots out of eighth place and 12 out of the top five in what is widely regarded as one of the strongest tournament fields in the Northeast.
Played at two of the oldest courses in the nation, Newport and Point Judith country clubs, the tournament featured a national field, including two teams from the top 25 in the country and a host of other quality golf programs.
“Our finish wasn’t quite as high as we would have liked,” captain Chris Eckerle ’02 said. “[With] teams that are ranked in the top 10 or 20 in the nation, over three or four rounds, it is tough to stay with them.”
Eckerle said he expects the Elis to post better results in upcoming tournaments, which feature more teams from the Northeast — traditionally a weaker field.
A former All-Ivy selection, Eckerle, who finished tied for 31st with a three-round total of 9 over par, 220, said he was disappointed with his own play and cited poor putting as the culprit.
But Eckerle pointed to the play of newcomer Gray as a sign of good things to come for the Yale team.
“Steve had a great first tournament,” Eckerle said. “It is nice to get out to a good start, especially as a freshman, to get some confidence.”
Tuesday at Newport, Gray fired rounds of 71 and 76 in the tournament’s first two rounds. He came back strong the next day at the Donald Ross designed Pt. Judith, shooting a 1-over-par 72 in the final round.
“My expectations weren’t too high,” said Gray, who had his “worst round of the year” in practice before the tournament. “I really enjoyed the experience of feeling the nerves.”
Alex Fulton ’04 and Neel Williams ’04 rounded out the Elis’ team score with three-day totals of 221 and 225, respectively. The Bulldogs’ total score of 885 was 83 strokes lower than their total from the 2000 Adams Cup of Newport, when they finished 11th out of 14 teams. The dramatic drop in scores was not so much a sign of Yale’s performance as it was of the playing conditions.
With both of the tournament courses situated on the coast, the wind can cause scores to balloon. In 2000, wind gusts blew as high as 55 mph during the event, but this year the weather was not a factor, and it showed — the winning score was 51 strokes lower than last year’s total.
“In my four years, this was the best weather we have had,” Eckerle said. “It was breezy, but by no means very windy.”
For Eckerle, it was his last chance to play at the historic Newport Country Club, a links-style course that was home to the first ever U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur championships, as well as the site of Tiger Woods’ 1995 U.S. Amateur victory.
“When we were all done, I kind of looked around, and I knew I wouldn’t be back there,” Eckerle said. “It is a great kind of aura.”