When Princeton’s Sharla Cloutier’s tee shot on Springfield Golf Club’s par three 13th hole kicked off a mound on the green and proceeded to roll toward the cup, Yale women’s golf head coach Chawadee Rompothong ’00 watched in disbelief.

As the ball dropped into the hole on Sunday afternoon, Yale’s outside chance at winning the 17-team Princeton Invitational sunk with it.

After birdies on the two preceding holes, Cloutier’s ace on the 13th put her four under par for the three holes and helped her card a tournament-low three under 69 on the par 72 course. Cloutier’s dazzling play led the Tigers to the team title for a two-round total of 605. Yale finished a disappointing second, 20 strokes back at 625.

In the individual standings, Yale captain January Romero ’06 placed second to Cloutier after scores of 73 on Saturday and 76 on Sunday, and Ellie Brophy ’08 placed sixth after shooting a 74 and a 78.

Despite the strong performances of Brophy and Romero, the team could not pull together a consistent effort. Defending Ivy League champion Cindy Shin ’07, who generally paces the Bulldogs, struggled to scores of 81 and 83 in finishing tied for 36th. Described by Rompothong as a lock to shoot below 80 every round, Shin never found her groove while playing with Cloutier.

“Cindy shooting 81 and 83 is bad for her,” Rompothong said. “That would have helped the team if she shot better, and morale would have been better.”

Lindsay Hong ’08 also struggled while playing in pain on Sunday, but managed to shoot a 81 and a 79 to finish 17th. Lauren Ressler ’06 finished tied for 56th after shooting rounds of 84 and 88.

Understandably, Rompothong was a little miffed by the combination of her team’s inconsistency and Princeton’s spectacular play, especially by Cloutier’s hole-in-one, but she understands that golf is a fickle game.

Dropping the lowest round out of five golfers to comprise a team score still does not take the unpredictable nature out of golf; bad rounds are inevitable. Shin voiced some of her frustration, but also her veteran optimism.

“I was definitely disappointed,” she said. “We were hoping to dominate and show Princeton how good we were, but we weren’t giving up holes and we were determined to stick with our strokes.”

At the end of Saturday’s round, Yale was only 10 strokes back after a season-best 309. Sunday’s score of 316 was not enough to catch the Tigers, but it did stave off Richmond (third) and Georgetown (fourth). Georgetown had finished ahead of the Bulldogs at the Notre Dame Invitational earlier in the season.

In a glimpse of the future, freshman Natasha Spackey finished tied for 25th individually. Spackey is a promising player that Rompothong has high hopes for this season.

While it is difficult to say that the Elis hold a grudge or bad feelings towards any team due to their courtesy and goodwill for fellow golfers, after finishing second to the Tigers for the third straight year, one would think that something has got to give. But Shin, amidst all her struggles, enjoyed playing with the devastating Cloutier on Sunday.

“It was very fun to play with [Cloutier] and see her play so well,” Shin said. “I had so much fun watching her hole-in-one.”

So much for a Tiger Woods-Vijay Singh type rivalry, but Brophy did her best to come to terms with the situation in a competitive sense.

“It’s disappointing because we are right there,” she said. “It’s definitely disappointing to lose to Princeton — it always is.”

And although the Tigers will not come to play at the Yale Intercollegiate this coming weekend the Bulldogs are looking forward to four more likely meetings.