The Yale men’s golf team finished third at the season-opening Doc Gimmler tournament this weekend in Farmingdale, New York. The Bulldogs, who prior to this outing were the reigning Doc Gimmler champions for three consecutive years, ended the third and final round of play nine strokes under par.
This tournament has marked the beginning of the Elis’ season for the past four years, and it was their first event this year since they finished third at the Ivy League Championship in April.
Yale was narrowly edged out for second place by Seton Hall, which posted a score of 10-under, while the University of Rhode Island secured the victory with a score of 15-under. Among the 13 schools that participated in the tournament, only one other team was from the Ivy League: Harvard, the defending Ivy League champion, finished sixth at 12-over.
“We’re a bit disappointed,” head coach Colin Sheehan ’97 said. “But the boys played admirably under the conditions we were in, hitting through the wind and keeping the ball low.”
The team’s third-place finish was bolstered by consistent performances across the board by all five scoring players. Most notably, Eric Hall ’20, in his first event for the Bulldogs, posted the team’s best score and the fifth-best score of the entire tournament at four under par. Captain Li Wang ’17 , the Doc Gimmler’s defending individual champion, and Jonathan Lai ’17 finished at one-under and one-over on the weekend, respectively.
Jordan Weitz ’20 (+2) and James Nicholas ’19 (+4) rounded out the rest of the team, which was the only squad in the tournament to see all five of its scorers place in the top 30.
Eoin Leonard ’19 competed as an individual, and though his scorecard did not count for the team’s standings, he finished at three-over with scores of 71, 70 and 72, earning him a tie for 24th.
The players repeatedly expressed pride in the showing of the team’s two freshmen, Hall and Weitz, who earned their way onto the starting five without having played a single collegiate round.
“I’m proud of the way all the boys grinded today, especially on the front nine, and I’m obviously proud of the freshmen for really stepping up in their first tournament,” Wang said.
After an opening round 72, Hall posted consecutive scores of 67 to close out the weekend. His round on Sunday, three under par, was the third best of the day out of the entire field and secured him fifth place. Wang, though unable to defend his tournament title from 2015, held the team lead on Saturday after two scores of 69 rounds before posting a 71 on Sunday to earn a tie at 11th place.
Lai had a strong showing in his first round, scoring a 66, and despite a 75 on his second round, was able to score even par on Sunday to finish at 15th.
Weitz and Leonard shared nearly identical round scorecards, both posting a second-round 70 and a third-round 72, but Weitz’s 70 in the first round outpaced Leonard’s 71, earning him a spot in the top 20. Only one stroke behind Leonard was Nicholas, whose 68 in the second round helped him nearly offset his 72 and 74 in the first and third rounds, leading to a 28th place finish.
As a team, the Bulldogs were quite consistent, finishing third at the end of every single round. Players said third was not the result they had hoped for, but they remained positive just one weekend into the fall season.
“Overall, though we really wanted to win and four-peat, it was a good experience to have all of us, especially the freshmen, come out and play,” Lai said.
Now that the first milestone of the year has passed, the Bulldogs are already looking forward to the remainder of their fall season, which comprises four tournaments and ends on Oct. 18.
The Cornell Invitational, to be played this Friday and Saturday in Ithaca, New York, is up next for Yale. The field will include four Ivy League teams, giving the Elis a good sense of how they stack up early in 2016–17.
“I’m very excited [to attend the invitational],” Sheehan said. “We haven’t been to it in a long time, and today’s let-down is going to encourage the boys to come back and play better next weekend.”