On Friday, the Yale men’s golf team competed for the final time this fall, tying Army 6–6 in match play at the inaugural Bush Cup.
The tournament, hosted at Winged Foot Golf Course in Mamaroneck, New York, was played in honor of former President George H.W. Bush ’48. The Yale and Army showdown included both team and individual portions of match play, in which competitors are awarded a point for each hole on which they score lower than their opponents. The event began with team play: four Eli pairings faced off against counterparts from Army, with each duo playing 18 holes. Yale’s eight golfers then played individually against Black Knight foes, with eight points up for grabs. Yale won the team rounds 2.5–1.5, but Army bounced back in the individual portion to win 4.5–3.5 and tie the overall score.
“It was great to get to play a match play event,” captain Joe Willis ’16 said. “Overall, I think the team played fairly well. We showed how deep our team is and showed that we have a lot of guys capable of some great play.”
The Bush Cup kicked off on Friday morning with two Yale pairings each scoring a full point in team play: Nick McNiff ’17 and James Nicholas ’19 won their match 5–3, while Li Wang ’17 and James Park ’17 emerged victorious by a score of 3–2.
Willis and Will Bernstein ’18 tied Army’s Peter Kim and Parker Harris, and Jonathan Lai ’17 and Eoin Leonard ’19, two regular starters for the Bulldogs in tournaments this fall, were defeated 2–4.
“Foursomes are very tricky because it can be hard to get into a rhythm, but having a partner and playing as part of a team gives you a sense of camaraderie and makes the tournament much more enjoyable,” Leonard said.
The Black Knights fared better in the individual portion of the competition. Henry Cassriel ’18, Jake Leffew ’19 and Park were the only victorious Bulldogs in the afternoon, though Bernstein did tie in his match against Army’s Nick Turner. With the four victories in the individual matches, Army outscored Yale 4.5–3.5, evening the score at 6–6.
The Bush Cup concluded a busy fall season for the Bulldogs — the event was Yale’s sixth intercollegiate competition in the past month. The Elis played Friday after participating in the Macdonald Cup less than a week before.
Yale’s fall season featured four top-10 finishes in tournaments, including capturing the first-place title in September at the Doc Gimmler Invitational, where the Bulldogs also competed against Army. In that tournament, the Black Knights ranked fifth in the team standings.
“We started off the fall on a really strong note in the first couple events, but lost some momentum in the second half of the fall season and had a couple disappointing results,” Willis said. “There were flashes of great play from a lot of members of the team, though, and I feel confident that we are going to have a great spring.”
Although Bush was not in attendance for the event, he wrote a letter thanking John Schneider, president of Winged Foot Golf Club and organizer of the event, and wishing Yale and Army luck in the tournament. The festivities for the Bush Cup included a singing performance by the Yale Whiffenpoofs and, like last year’s Yale-Army football game, a parachute jump by the West Point Parachute Team.
At an evening reception following the tournament, the Whiffenpoofs performed, and Yale athletics director Tom Beckett and former Army chief of staff Raymond Odierno both delivered speeches.
“I knew that we were going to have a banquet, but I had no idea that it was going to be to that magnitude,” Lai said. “There were probably 200 people at the closing ceremony, and we were announced into the banquet room to a bunch of cameras and applause. It was an incredible experience, even without playing our best golf.”
Yale resumes play on March 24 at a tournament hosted by Stanford.