After a disappointing 17th place finish at the Prestige Cup in November, the men’s golf team rebounded Sunday and Monday with a stunning display, capturing first place at the George Washington Invitational in Maryland.
Teeing off at the Swan Point Yacht and Country Club for the first time, the Bulldogs emerged victorious despite playing in the cold and wind, under a low-hanging sky.
“This win was nice because we were able to prevail under tough conditions — poor weather, rain-soaked fairways and bumpy greens,” said Steve Gray ’05. “It shows that this team has the talent to win even when we are not at our best.”
Yale put up solid numbers, with a two-round score of 602, 26 strokes above par. Of the fourteen squads at the tournament, the closet any team came to the Eli score was host George Washington which was 12 strokes off Yale’s lead.
“It’s hard to know exactly how you’ll stack up at this point in the season although we definitely felt good about our chances of winning,” said captain Chris Eckerle ’02.
Eckerle was 1-over-par in the two rounds combined, shooting 72 and 73 to capture the individual crown for Yale.
“I was just able to put good swings together when it mattered,” said Eckerle. “At this point in the season you have to expect a few errant shots and mistakes. Luckily I was just able to minimize the damage and capitalize on most of my opportunities.”
In winning the event, he impressively edged out Thomas Blankvoort of George Washington, who was named A-10 Player of the Week for March 25. Blankvoort also shot a 72 on the first day but his 74 Monday left him one shot back of Eckerle.
Bulldogs Neel Williams ’04 and Gray tied for sixth place with scores of 151, giving Yale the distinction of having the most players to break the top ten.
“After a couple of shaky tournament rounds on the spring break trip, I was relieved to put up two decent numbers,” said Gray. “The first round should have been a lot lower, but I didn’t make any putts.”
The mean score for the tournament was 165.09 and all five Bulldogs shot better than average. Tying with four other players for 13th place was Adam Cyrus ’02, shooting 75 and 80, to go 11 over par. Alex Fulton ’04 shot an 81 both rounds to tie for 35th spot.
“[My game] wasn’t as good as I would have liked it,” Cyrus said. “But the ground conditions were some of the worst I have played in, so I’ll grant myself some leeway.”
Saturday and Sunday, the Bulldogs will host over 20 teams at the Yale Spring Opener.
“I look forward to this week’s home tournament because it gives us a chance to virtually seal an NCAA regional bid and prepare for the Ivies in three weeks,” said Gray.