After weeks of practicing in the rain and cold, the men’s golf team is anxious for the sunny skies and warm weather of California.
The team departs Saturday for The Prestige at the La Quinta Resort Mountain Course in La Quinta, Calif., to play Yale’s final fall tournament. The five-man squad will compete against some of the best teams in the nation in two rounds Nov. 4 and a final round Nov. 5.
“I’m looking forward to the chance to represent the school on the national level, which is something not every tournament we play in gives us the chance to do,” Steve Gray ’05 said.
Captain Neel Williams ’03 leads a roster that includes Gray, Alex Fulton ’04, Andrew Vitt ’05, and freshman Brian Kim.
Yale, No. 123 in Golfweek’s national rankings, will face five top-25 golf teams — Texas Christian University (6), UCLA (9), Vanderbilt (17), Washington (21), and Pepperdine (22) — as well as defending tournament champion Kansas and co-host Stanford, Tiger Woods’ alma mater. The University of California at Davis is the tournament’s other host.
Gray said a top-10 finish would be one of the team’s better performances of the year.
“The field is so strong out there,” he said.
Coach Dave Paterson said the goal was obviously to win, but that the team should be realistic as well.
“If we finish middle of the pack we’d be very pleased,” he said. Yale finished 17th out of 20 last year at The Prestige, when it was played at the Desert Willow Golf Resort.
Kim said he would be content if the team simply played to its potential.
The Elis have recorded a strong fall season, finishing second in the MacDonald Cup at Yale, winning the Dartmouth Invitational, and placing a respectable 13th in the Adams Cup, another tournament stacked with top-ranked teams.
The Bulldogs had been scheduled to play in another fall tournament, The Tillinghast, but cancelled their appearance because of NCAA regulations regarding the number of days players are allowed to compete in intercollegiate competition.
“We’ve had a good season so far,” Paterson said.
Paterson has been satisfied with his team’s progress, and said he was impressed with the dedication his players showed. He said the team is well-prepared for The Prestige thanks to practicing a few hours everyday right through mid-terms.
“It’s hard to keep a solid practice schedule with so much stress,” Gray said.
Last week, Gray said, the players spent extra time getting their games in shape.
California, Paterson said, was a welcome reward for the players’ hard work.
“They’re anxious to get some sunshine and warmth,” he said.
None of the five golfers who will compete in The Prestige are native to New England. Kim, who is from Kentucky, said the squad is glad to get away from the region’s “discouraging weather.”
CNN forecasts temperatures in the mid-70’s and “sunny” conditions for La Quinta on Nov. 4, as opposed to the low-40’s and “partly cloudy” conditions here in New Haven.
But the warmer climate could present problems as well.
While most of the teams in the field hail from the West or South and have been practicing in conditions similar to those at La Quinta, the Bulldogs have been training with three or four layers of clothing on.
“We haven’t been able to wear shorts,” Kim said.