At the beginning of the year, Brian Kim ’06 was not even in the top five of the men’s golf team. This weekend, he was top in the Ivy League.

Kim carded a tournament-best 222 at the Ivy League Championship this weekend at the Metedeconk International Golf Course in New Jersey to lead Yale to its first conference crown since 1997 and seventh since the inaugural in 1975.

“I just try to do my best regardless of the circumstances, and if that happens to win for me, that’s great, but in this context, my primary goal is to help the team,” Kim said.

With the win, Yale captured the automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals at Auburn University, May 15 to 17.

“It was a break out tournament for Brian [Kim],” Ben Levy ’05 said. “He’s been solid all year, but for a freshman to come into Ivy League Championship — the biggest tournament of the year — and win is just awesome.”

Yale won the championship convincingly with a 917, 11 strokes under second place Pennsylvania.

Princeton, the two-time defending Ivy League champion and Yale’s anticipated main source of competition, finished third with a 932. The Tigers beat the Elis 309-312 at the George Washington Invitational in their only previous meeting this year.

“It was nice to get some revenge on Princeton,” Levy said.

Yale had a slow start but improved as play progressed. After opening with a 310 in first round, Yale posted a 305 in the second round to take over the lead from eventual runner-up Pennsylvania. The Elis, led by Kim’s one-over-par performance of 71, shot a 299 on the final day to seal the title.

Captain Neel Williams ’03, who had single-handedly carried the team this spring, had another brilliant showing and finished one stroke behind Kim in second place.

“[Neel Williams] has been our most consistent and best performer,” Kim said. “In my eyes, he’s clearly the best player in the Ivy League. He’s kept us in a lot of tournaments, and this one is no exception.”

Steve Gray ’05 carded a 228 and Dan Levy ’06 shot a 244, five strokes ahead of big-brother Ben.

Kim, Williams and Gray were named All-Ivy.

Kim has steadily improved over the year. He moved into the top five for the first time in November at the Prestige at PGA West and has since had a pair of top 10 finishes this spring at George Washington and the Yale Spring Opener.

Yale has three weeks before it heads down to Roswell, Ga., to take on the East Coast’s best. Berths to the NCAA National competition will be at stake, but the Elis are planning to simply enjoy themselves.

“The frustration is gone,” Ben Levy said. “Realistically, our chances to qualify for nationals aren’t that great. But we’ve accomplished what we set out to do, and we’re going to go down to regionals and have fun.”

— Contributing reporter Jeffrey Friedman contributed to this story.