Miranda Escobar

The season is in full swing for the Yale men’s golf team after a third place finish at the Macdonald Cup this past weekend. In the second of three home tournaments hosted at the Course at Yale this season, the Bulldogs bested all but two of the 17 competing teams, trailing just Harvard and Stirling University of Scotland at the weekend’s end.

But perhaps even more impressive than the final team standing was the second-round score of Eli captain Li Wang ’17, who shot an incredible 10 under par during the second round of the 54-hole tournament, tying an NCAA record.

“Li’s [60] round was incredible,” Eoin Leonard ’19 said. “I have never seen anything like it. Having played in the same conditions [on the course] I can tell you it was nowhere as easy as he made it look. It is a round that will go down in college golf history, and I hope he gets the recognition he deserves for what is an incredible achievement.”

Wang’s weekend began near the rear of the Bulldog pack. His first-round score of 73 trailed all but three teammates, while Leonard and Jake Leffew ’19 paced the group with an opening round of 69.

But Wang stormed back in his second pass through the course on Saturday, birdying ten out of the first sixteen holes, five on the front nine and five on the back nine, in his second round.

The anticipation surrounding Wang’s historic performance on Saturday intensified when his round was delayed because of darkness, forcing him to wait until Sunday morning to finish the final two holes.

“Suddenly I had to sleep on it,” Wang said. “Sunday morning I had to go early and finish my round from Saturday which [was] really tough because I had twelve hours in between to think about what I had done and what I could potentially do. I could potentially birdie one of the last two holes and become the first person to break 60 in a tournament, so I was really nervous the next morning.”

Wang went on to par the final two holes, maintaining his 10-under second round mark and the unconfirmed lowest round score in NCAA Division I golf history. The Beijing native cooled off after his incendiary second round, shooting an even-par 70 to close out the tournament on the final day.

The Bulldog captain’s –7 performance for the tournament earned him second-place overall behind Boston College’s Matt Naumec, who shot –10 for the event. Wang was accompanied in the individual top 10 by teammates Eric Hall ’20 and Leonard, who finished tied for eighth and tied for tenth, respectively. Will Bernstein ’18 finished fourth on the team and 24th overall after shooting –1 on Sunday.

On the team leaderboard, Yale found itself in eighth after finishing the tournament’s first 36 holes. However, the Elis rallied back on the final day of competition with a tournament-best team score of 274 to secure third place.

“As a team, we struggled the first day to put up two solid rounds back to back, but Li’s 60 motivated us to go out in the final round and play some really good golf,” Hall said. “It was a bittersweet feeling at the end because we knew we were capable of winning, but we were happy with the way we played Sunday.”

Jordan Weitz ’20 and Henry Cassriel ’18 also contributed to the Bulldogs’ success over the weekend. Weitz shot –3 in his second round on Saturday and Cassriel recorded a 70 and a 71 in his first two rounds.

The Yale team will return to the links for one more competition in 2016 before its season breaks during the winter months. Entering their final fall tournament, the Bulldogs emphasized consistency and teamwork.

“Our team’s mindset going into the last tournament of the season is simple: to win,” Hall said. “We know that if each guy can put together three solid rounds, then we can compete with any team. All that’s left is simply to do it.”

The Bulldogs will travel to Atlanta on Oct. 17–18 for the Autotrader.com Classic.