he great weather and the impeccable golf course proved to be the only positive factors for the men’s golf team at the Barona Collegiate Cup.
In their final tournament of the fall season, the Bulldogs finished in last place with a score of 904 in a three-round tournament that ended Tuesday night. Eighteen teams and 100 golfers competed in the event, which was held at Barona Creek Golf Club and hosted by San Diego State. University of Alabama at Birmingham came out on top, finishing comfortably with an 840, and Wichita State University followed just four strokes behind. Colorado State University was only one stroke away from second place, finishing third with an 803.
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“It was an unusually competitive field with the top players of the nation,” Joe Hernandez ’08 said. “The competition was quite intense.”
Even though it was a difficult field, the Elis couldn’t help but feel disappointed in their team’s performance.
“The scores were a lot lower than we thought they would be,” Colby Moore ’09 said. “The course was a lot tougher but some of the scores from the other teams were very low. We didn’t think we’d be that high, but unfortunately those teams were better teams than we were. They played very well in the past two days.”
The Bulldogs struggled from the beginning, placing 18th after the first two rounds of the tournament. But in the third round, Yale bested two other teams and tied UC Davis with a 298. When asked what could have been improved, the Elis were united in their answer — putting.
“We hit the ball as well as any other collegiate team in the nation,” Mark Matza ’07 said. “It’s all about putting. It’s the key to success and golf. It’s what separates our team from the top college teams in the nation, and it’s what separates the good guys from the average guys in the PGA Tour.”
Matza, the captain and sole senior on the traveling team, was Yale’s top scorer. Matza finished with a 225 and tied for 75th place. Yale’s second-highest scorer was the team’s only competing freshman, Ben Wescoe ’10, who scored a 227 and finished in 83rd place. Wescoe also led the Elis in the third round with a team-low 72 on Tuesday. Wescoe has been playing well all season and has proven to be an integral part of the team. His teammates said that he putted well, which helped the team dramatically.
“It was great to be able to contribute as a freshman, and I know I could have played better, but I ended better in the last round,” Wescoe said. “I’m hoping to take that momentum to spring and play well.”
The Bulldogs have been disappointed with their results in tournaments throughout the season. Earlier in the month, the team placed 7th out of eighteen at the MacDonald Cup, an unexpectedly substandard finish.
“We started off the season very strongly, but we just didn’t improve,” Moore said. “We stayed right where we were. In practice we were playing very well.”
The Bulldogs’ next game is not until the Drew Upton Classic at Westover, MD in March. Meanwhile, the team plans to keep its clubs at hand in the next few months, and more importantly, to learn from their mistakes. In that sense, closing out their season with a high-level tournament has its upside.
“It’s always a challenge playing the top teams of the nation,” Matza said. “I wish we could have putted a little bit better — we could have been able to compete. It was a challenge, but it was a good experience.”