After finishing last season on a high, the men’s golf team began the fall season on a low — a last-place finish at the 2008 Gopher Invitational.
Hosted at the Spring Hill Golf Club in Wayzata, Minn., the tournament featured tough competition, including teams from the Big 12, SEC and Pac-10, the best golf conferences in the country. LSU and Texas tied for first at 8-over par — the Longhorns won the tiebreaker — while the Bulldogs shot a 62-over, 926, over three rounds to finish in last out of 12 teams. SMU and Iowa State finished just ahead of the Elis by three and one strokes, respectively, with those three teams more than 30 shots behind the other competitors.
In spite of the team disappointment, Tom McCarthy ’11 played well for the Bulldogs, finishing tied for 11th individually at 4-over. McCarthy was tied for second after a first round 70 before sliding down the leaderboard.
“I’m very proud of sophomore Tom McCarthy,” Ben Wescoe ’10 said. “He beat a lot of good golfers this weekend.”
To put the Elis’ struggles in perspective, three Bulldog golfers — Seve Gonzales ’10, Colby Moore ’09 and Michael Fader ’11 — finished in 60th, 62nd and 63rd places out of a total of 64 golfers in the field.
The Elis pointed to difficulties hitting fairways off the tees as a factor leading to their high scores.
“It was a very tight and narrow course,” Feder said. “The fairways were lined with hazards, making any mistakes costly.”
The weather also seemed to play a factor for the Bulldogs, as cold off-and-on rain poured Sunday, particularly during the team’s last holes, which were also the toughest on the golf course.
“We struggled on holes that were among the toughest on the golf course, having bad timing with bad weather when we played them,” Gonzales said.
Those last holes were seven, eight and nine, which each averaged a little less than a half-stroke over par for the weekend. In the ensuing rain, they played even harder, leading to a bogey, double bogey and triple bogey finish for Gonzales, who had been at 2-over for the day.
While the final standings resulted in a last place finish, players felt that they still performed decently in consideration to the teams they were playing.
“I think a lot of other Ivy League teams would have done a lot worse than us,” Gonzales said.
As a silver lining to the tournament, players pointed to the team’s great overall experience in Minnesota. They were hosted by a Yale alumnus for dinner and cheered on by alums during rounds. The Elis also played with LSU for one round, offering them an up-close glimpse of one of the best teams in the nation.
“The Minnesota tournament was an awesome experience.” Wescoe said. “It was a great golf course.”
The struggles come after the success at the end of last season that saw the Bulldogs win the New England Division I Championship and finish second at the Ivy League Championship. With that previous success in mind, the Elis hope to bounce back quickly on their home course at the upcoming Yale Invitational.
“We are going to play as many rounds at the Yale course [in the next two weeks] to gain familiarity practice a lot around the greens,” Wescoe said. “At the Yale Invitational, it will come down to putting, and we hope to have a home-course advantage there.”