It might be time to print out more NCAA brackets, but not for basketball.
Following a successful one-day showing at the New England Division I Championships, the men’s golf team has put forth a solid record so far this season that may qualify it for the NCAA East Regional Tournament. In a tournament cut short by poor weather conditions, the Bulldogs tied for second place in a field of 17 teams, shooting 301. The Elis, along with Central Connecticut, trailed Sacred Heart by only five strokes. The competition was held in Providence, R.I. at the Triggs Memorial Golf Club.
With Sunday’s play cancelled, the tournament was determined by only on Saturday’s scores. The five golfers playing for Yale all had strong showings, with three placing in the top 15 overall. Scoring his best collegiate finish, Taylor Hakes ’09 shot a one over par 73 and tied for fifth place.
“The course was playing pretty tough with the wind, but I kept my game together and tried to finish out,” Hakes said. “I knew the scores would be high, but I just tried to drive the ball on the fairway and hit the greens.”
Only two strokes behind Hakes, captain Mark Matza ’07 and Ben Wescoe ’10 both shot a 75 and tied for 11th place. Also having impressive rounds on Saturday were Colby Moore ’09, who shot a 78 and tied for 38th place, and Andrew Denenberg ’08, who shot an 80 and tied for 45th place.
With a very successful spring season thus far, the Bulldogs are likely to place in the top three of their division, which would qualify them for the NCAA East Regional Tournament. The team was in 6th place after the fall season but has moved up in the rankings after playing well over the last five weeks. With only one regular season tournament remaining, the district teams are approaching their final rankings.
“We have a very legitimate chance at making the NCAA Regionals, which would be unbelievable,” Matza said. “I was able to play in the Regional Tournament my freshman year when Yale hosted it, and it was one of the best tournaments I have ever played in. It would be a really good experience if we got in.”
So far in the spring season, the Elis have earned four top-five finishes and one top-10 finish. In four of the five tournaments, at least one member of the team placed in the top five. In addition, the Bulldogs had a total of 10 golfers finish in the top 15 in the five tournaments. The numbers show the strength, depth and consistency of this year’s team.
The Bulldogs would also win an automatic bid to NCAA Regionals with a first place finish in the Ivy Championship.
“Right now we have an 11-1 record in the Ivy, which gives us a lot of confidence for next weekend,” Matza said. “The tournament shouldn’t make a difference in district rankings because only four of the Ivies are in the New England District.”
Harvard, Brown, and Dartmouth make up the other conference schools represented in both Yale’s league and district, but the team already has a substantial lead over them going into this weekend. The Ivy League Championship will be held on Saturday and Sunday at Galloway National Golf Club in New Jersey.
“Going to the NCAA tournament would be the greatest thing in my life,” Wescoe said. “It really is a dream come true.”