When the Yale men’s golf team travels to the Ivy Championship this weekend, it will have two Ivy titles to defend — the team championship and Brian Kim’s ’06 top finish in the individual competition. But the Elis traveling to the Metedeconk National Golf Course this weekend will be a very different team from the one that competed there last season.

Neel Williams ’04, last year’s captain and owner of the second best individual score in the 2003 Ivy Championship, left the team at the end of last year. This year’s captain, Ben Levy ’04, made the journey to Jackson, NJ last season but will not be participating this weekend.

Ben Levy and Rick Reissman ’06 both played on Yale’s first team during the Spring Opener April 3-5 but did not qualify in the team’s intrasquad play for the upcoming Ivies.

“After every tournament, everyone gets the opportunity to qualify for the upcoming event,” Tommy Tangtiphaiboontana ’04 said. “It is a little strange [for the captain not to be amongst the participants for a tournament], but it’s happened before. Our team — depth-wise — is pretty good.”

Tangtiphaiboontana and Andrew Vitt ’05 will replace Ben Levy and Reissman. Tangtiphaiboontana said that six rounds were counted in terms of qualifying: the two from the Opener and four rounds the team played the following week. The top four finishers — in order, Steve Gray ’05, Vitt, and Kim and Tangtiphaiboontana in a tie — are guaranteed to played in the Ivy Championship. The fifth player going to compete was selected by head coach Dave Paterson.

“Dan Levy ’06 was the pick,” Tangtiphaiboontana said. “I think [Paterson] probably consulted with the captain [Ben Levy]. Ben is always involved in [those kind of] selections.”

Paterson said he knows the key to the Metedeconk course.

“Probably the most important thing is accuracy from the tee, keeping the ball in play,” he said.

Tangtiphaiboontana echoed those sentiments, calling the course “narrow” and the greens “small.”

Regardless of the course’s difficulties, Yale remains amongst the favorites to repeat as champions.

“We’d probably have to be one of the favorites,” Tangtiphaiboontana said. “But we aren’t the outright favorites. We’re always up there. If we all click, if we all play well, we’ll win.”

The last time Yale finished lower than third was a fourth place finish in 1995.

“It’s normally a two-team race with Princeton,” Tangtiphaiboontana said.

Though Kim is the defending champion, the nature of the three round championship makes it easy for almost anyone having a good weekend to prevail, Tangtiphaiboontana said. He said that Gray, who finished in sixth place last year, is playing well now and has the advantage of having played the course last year.

Winning the Ivy Championship guarantees the Elis a spot in the NCAA Regionals — scheduled to be held this year at the Course at Yale May 20-22. Even without the automatic Ivy League bid, Tangtiphaiboontana said the Elis still have a good chance of being selected to participate. The Bulldogs are currently No. 2 in the New England district, which sends three teams to the regional competition.