There was dissatisfaction all around after the men’s golf team finished fourth at the New England Golf Championships this weekend.
Fourteen squads participated in the tournament held at Triggs Memorial Golf Course in Providence, R.I., a course known for its rolling topography, which provides for an array of difficult uphill and downhill shots. But spotty ground conditions, not hole design, posed the stiffest challenge for the Bulldogs.
“Some portions were very good, while others were very rough,” captain Chris Eckerle ’02 said of the course. “It’s difficult because you never know what kind of lie you are going to have.”
The Eli men started the event poorly, shooting a middle-of-the-pack 315 on Saturday.
“Usually one or two might meet a disaster or two, but this time all team members ran into trouble,” Yale head coach Dave Paterson said.
On a pleasant Sunday, the Bulldogs locked in and shot a more characteristic 296, giving them a two-round total of 611, 35 over par. Rhode Island, finishing with a score of 603, 27 over, took home the crown for the third time in four years.
Eckerle, ranked No. 9 in District I by the College Golf Foundation, shot a disappointing first round of 84, but rebounded with a 73 Sunday to tie for 31st.
“I have mixed feelings about my performance,” Eckerle said. “Obviously the first round was terrible, but the second round showed a lot of promise.”
Steve Gray ’05 was Yale’s top finisher, shooting a 75 in both rounds, a 6-over-par execution that was good for sixth place. With a combined score of 153, Alex Fulton ’04 tied for 19th place with two other golfers. Neel Williams ’04 shared 25th place, while Adam Cyrus ’02 tied for 51st.
Though the Bulldogs teed off expecting to win, it was their high first-round totals that placed them in the bunker.
“It was a wake-up call for our team,” Gray said.
The brilliant rebound on day two, however, is encouraging to the team.
“I look at 315 as an aberration, and so do [the guys],” Paterson said. “We won’t do that again.”
There are other positives to be taken from the tournament. By outplaying regional rivals Connecticut and Hartford universities, who finished fifth and eighth, respectively, Yale has virtually secured an NCAA tournament berth.
In addition, even with its underperformance, over the weekend Yale had the best Ivy showing, placing better than Brown, Harvard and Dartmouth. The confidence gained from that is substantial, as the Bulldogs gear up for the Ivy Championships. The championships will take place at Metedeconk Golf Course in Jackson, N.J., April 20-22.
“The team is solid, and I am confident they have the ability to bring home the Ivy gold,” Paterson said.