In most cases, a team would welcome a third place finish in 16-team tournament — but not if it expected to win.
The men’s golf team, coming off a first place finish at last weekend’s Toski Invitational, tied for third at last weekend’s MacDonald Cup, hosted at the Yale Golf Course.
Despite the high finish, the Bulldogs, who are the top-ranked Ivy League team, entered the tournament with higher hopes.
“We were expecting to win,” captain Chris Eckerle ’02 said . “Nobody played particularly well, which is why it was hard to swallow — even if we had played average we would have won handily. We played substandard.”
Argentinian Diego Besga won by 2 strokes with a combined score of 144, 73-71. Besga attends Florida’s Johnson & Wales University, which won the tournament with a two-day total of 595, 288-307. The Bulldogs posted a two-day score of 603, 303-300.
Eckerle led the Bulldogs with an overall sixth place finish of 148, 72-76. Edward Shaw ’03 was second for the Bulldogs and ninth overall with a combined score of 149, 73-76.
On a sun-soaked Saturday, Johnson & Wales jumped out to a 12-stroke lead after the first round, with a strong eight-over-par total of 288. Johnson & Wales’ Rob Lenkey, who finished tied for second in the tournament, shot a two-under-par 68. A group of three, including Eckerle and Jason Shin ’05, sat 4 strokes back at 72.
After firing a 73, Shaw was the next highest Bulldog, in a tie for fifth after Saturday.
A steady drizzle and lack of sunshine made for a longer course and slower greens in the final round Sunday. The Bulldogs managed to improve upon their first day total of 303 by shooting 300. Neel Williams ’02 led the squad with a two-over-par 72. Steve Gray ’05 fired a 74.
“With golf you’ve got to have everybody on their game at the same time,” Gray said. “None of us really had our games going, and so that’s what happens.”
Although Johnson & Wales struggled to a 307 Sunday, no other teams made a significant move to overcome the first day lead.
Demonstrating the depth of the squad, both the first and second teams for the Bulldogs — who as hosts were allowed to enter two teams — defeated Ivy League foes Dartmouth and Harvard. The second team finished seventh with a two-day total of 619, 314-305. Dartmouth placed ninth with a score of 623, and Harvard finished in a tie for tenth, 5 shots behind Dartmouth.
After three straight weeks of tournaments, the Bulldogs now have a couple of weeks off before traveling to California to play at The Prestige in Palm Desert, Calif.
“The Prestige is our biggest tournament of the fall,” Eckerle said. “Northwestern and Stanford and a lot of other top-20 teams will be there. The caliber of the teams is so high that it’s going to be extremely difficult to win, but I think we can go out and get a top-three finish if we play well.”
Gray said the West Coast trip will provide the Bulldogs with a great opportunity.
“It’s traditionally a very strong field,” Gray said. “If we place well we can take some confidence out of the fall and carry it over to the spring.”