Behind strong performances from Li Wang ’17 and Jonathan Lai ’17, the Yale men’s golf team cruised to a third consecutive Doc Gimmler title at the Bethpage Red Golf Course in Farmingdale, New York.
The Bulldogs finished at 15 under par, an impressive 13 strokes ahead of the second-place team, Johnson & Wales University of Miami. In addition to Wang and Lai, who finished at -9 and -6, respectively, captain Joe Willis ’16 and James Park ’17 were the top four competitors for the Elis. Two years removed from winning the individual title at this event, Willis shot 70–70–69 over the three weekend rounds to turn in a -1, while Park finished a single stroke above par.
“Needless to say, this is a terrific start to the year,” head coach Colin Sheehan said. “I saw the team making smart decisions. They played carefully at times and then they played aggressively when the opportunity presented itself.”
Wang clinched his first collegiate victory at the tournament after finishing tied for 11th a year ago. He posted the second-best round of the weekend with a 65 on the first day, and after shooting even par on day two, he surged past Lai with a final-round 66.
Lai finished second overall largely thanks to back-to-back scores of 66 to open the weekend.
“I am extremely thrilled for Li Wang,” Sheehan said. “He played beautifully all weekend.” He added that he was also pleased by the leadership and excellent play of Lai, Park and Willis.
In total, four Yalies finished in the top eight at The Doc Gimmler. Besides Wang and Lai, Willis and newcomer Eoin Leonard ’19 tied for fourth with three other players at -1.
Leonard, who hails from Ireland and has represented his home country in U16 and U18 competitions in the past, competed as an individual rather than as part of the team score, as did Will Bernstein ’18. Though both finished with identical 68 first-round scores, Leonard’s third round of 69 outpaced Bernstein, who shot a 74 and ultimately tied for 19th place.
The seventh and final player who competed as part of Yale’s contingent was Jake Leffew ’19, who finished at +11 in his collegiate debut.
“I didn’t play up to my expectations, but it was a good learning experience,” Leffew said. “I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform well because this was such a good opportunity to play. It will only get better from here in terms of playing in tournaments and getting used to the whole college golf feel.”
Among the nine schools that participated in The Doc Gimmler were two familiar Ivy League foes: Harvard and Columbia. The Crimson finished 21 strokes behind the Elis in fourth place, while Columbia ended up 27 shots back in sixth. Both the Crimson and the Lions topped Yale last year in the Ivy League Championship.
Despite the victory, Sheehan said that the team is focused on getting ready for what he termed “a much bigger tournament” this weekend, when the Bulldogs travel to Toledo, Ohio for the Inverness Intercollegiate Tournament. Multiple top schools are participating in the invitational, including preseason No. 19 California and preseason No. 28 East Tennessee State.
The tournament begins next Monday and concludes on Tuesday, Sept. 22.