The men’s golf team will be playing in the rain this weekend at the New England District Championships in Providence, R.I., if weather forecasters have their way.
But braving the elements is nothing new for Yale.
“We’ve gotten some bad breaks with the weather,” team member Ben Levy ’04 said. “It’s been rough the last few weekends. But we can’t let that get to us. We’ve just got to suck it up.”
If the Bulldogs finish first this weekend, they can secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Eastern Regionals. The Elis are currently second in the district. The top three teams in the district will go to the regionals at Auburn University May 15-17.
Leading the district is the University of Rhode Island. Yale has yet to defeat the Rams, but came close at the MacDonald Cup last fall. The Elis outshot the Rams in the second and third rounds, but could not overcome an abysmal outing in the first round.
“We know we have it in us,” Levy said. “We have a legitimate chance and if we do beat Rhode Island, that will give us a lot of confidence.”
Yale will have another chance to top Rhode Island this weekend. But if the Elis entertain thoughts of dethroning the team Levy said is “the perennial powerhouse of the district,” they will have to improve upon their recent performances.
“We have to be able to shoot in the low 70s,” Levy said. “It’s been one or two swings or one or two mental lapses that’s turning a 72 or 73 into a 77. A lot of it is just being aware and not falling asleep for that one swing or putt.”
With the Ivy League Championships looming next weekend, Andrew Vitt ’05 said a win over Rhode Island could not come at a more crucial time.
“Rhode Island has been actually really struggling,” Vitt said. “So it’s a good opportunity for us to gain some momentum for Ivies.”
Levy said it has been seven months since the Elis last had a solid all-around showing.
“Our last good round as a team was against Dartmouth last September,” he said. “We have to get something going.”
Yale has struggled of late. Last weekend, the team finished third at the Yale Spring Opener, a tournament the Elis won last year and expected to win this year.
“We have sort of stagnated,” Levy said. “We’ve been shooting all right. It’s just mediocrity.”
In fact, Levy said, the “terrific” play of one golfer has single-handedly carried the team.
“Neel [Williams ’03] has kept us in contention for the last few tournaments,” he said. “The rest of us have to step up and shoot well.”
Williams has had a brilliant spring season. He led the team to third and sixth places finishes during its spring break trip and earned medalist honors at the George Washington Invitational on March 31.