The Yale men’s golf team started its fall season with a fourth-place finish at the Doc Gimmler tournament in Farmingdale, New York, where Bulldog veteran Eoin Leonard ’19 led both the team and the 78-player field with a career performance.
The Elis posted a three-round team score of 849 to complete the two-day tournament at nine over par, finishing 22 shots behind the winner, No. 10 Florida State, and narrowly beating 2017 Ivy League champion Harvard. While Yale as a team fell just short of top billing on the tournament, Leonard took home the individual title, finishing his three rounds with a final score of 11 under. The junior became the third Bulldog in the past five years to win the Doc Gimmler, following in the footsteps of Li Wang ’17 and Joe Willis ’16, who won in 2015 and 2013, respectively.
“I’m thrilled for Eoin,” head coach Colin Sheehan ’97 said. “He played as well as I’ve ever seen him play this past weekend. He played with a lot of resolve. … We underachieved as a team, but it was still a good start for the players.”
Leonard dominated the competition from start to finish, recording back-to-back round scores of 65 in his first two trips through the par-70 course and finishing his weekend with a score of 69. The Ascot, England, native was ultimately responsible for two of the best five rounds in the entire tournament and led the field alongside the Seminoles’ John Pak with 15 birdies.
James Nicholas ’19 followed Leonard on the Bulldog leaderboard, finishing in a tie for 13th place with a two-over-par score of 212. The fellow junior matched Leonard’s final-round score of 69, improving on his first- and second-round scores of 71 and 72, respectively. Sean Yi ’21 finished close behind Nicholas, tying for 15th overall in his debut as a Bulldog with three-round total of 213; Henry Cassriel ’18 and captain Will Bernstein ’18 tied for 35th and 56th place with three-round totals of 217 and 224, respectively, while Eric Hall ’20 finished the event in 74th place.
“We know there are areas of improvement for us, and we hope to capitalize on them,” Bernstein said. “Sean Yi coming in 15th was really exciting to see. [The first years] have a lot of talent, [and] we have senior leadership as well — it’s a perfect mix of youth and experience.”
According to Bernstein, the Bulldogs will look to lean on both their newcomers and veterans.
The Eli veterans put together a solid 2016–17 season, entering their final tournament of the year as the second-ranked team in the Ivy League. The team graduated a few of its strongest golfers, among them Jonathan Lai ’17, who was one of the lowest-scoring golfers in the Ancient Eight. However, going forward, several Bulldogs said they are enthusiastic about the team’s potential.
“There have been a lot of changes this year [but] we have a strong group of upperclassmen who lead the team very well [and] the freshmen fit in very well,” Leonard said. “The team dynamic is very good right now. We have quite a young team, which gives us a lot of potential for the future.”
With four tournaments in the next month, the team is hoping to use the fall season to prepare for the spring.
First up for the Elis in the fall season is this weekend’s Cornell Invitational, followed by the MacDonald Cup at the end of the month. Yale took third place last season in both events, and is hoping for a better showing this year. As the year progresses, the Elis are locked in on claiming the Ivy League championship. Both Leonard and Bernstein noted that the team wants to build towards that goal by perfecting its overall play during the fall.
“The fall season is about laying the groundwork for good performances,” Bernstein said. “We’re building good habits in terms of tournament preparation. We’re understanding how to perform under pressure. It’s a long season, and we’re building towards greater goals.”
The two-day Cornell Invitational will take place in Ithaca, New York, on Sept. 16 and 17.
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