Coming off a fourth-place finish last weekend, the Yale men’s golf team had an even better performance at the Cornell Invitational: A Bulldog won the tournament for the second week in a row, and the team finished in second place in a field of 16 teams.
James Nicholas ’19 had the best scorecard at Ithaca, finishing with a 209 (4 under par) just a week after Eoin Leonard ’19 won the Doc Glimmer tournament. Nicholas won in dramatic fashion, sinking a nearly 50-foot putt on the 18th hole to narrowly edge a Temple golfer. As a team, the Elis led through Saturday after two rounds, and ultimately finished with an 856 (4 over par) — just a stroke behind Temple, and narrowly edging third-place Cornell.
“It’s not often that you’re in a situation like the final round, where there’s five teams neck and neck for the lead,” head coach Colin Sheehan ’97 said. “There’s no substitute for that type of experience. James was on a mission all week, and I was proud of the fact that he remained patient.”
Nicholas, who won a state championship on the very same course in high school, scored a 209 (4 under par) over the weekend, including a 67, 73 and 69 over three rounds. The junior’s first-round 67 was tied for the lowest individual round all weekend, and he finished with the third-most birdies at the tournament.
Last spring, the Scarsdale, New York, native finished the season as the seventh lowest-scoring golfer in the Ancient Eight.
“I got off to a hot start on Saturday,” Nicholas said. “On the final day I was playing with the leader and was one shot back the entire day. The course doesn’t really set up well for my type of game, but I kept the ball in play and made some key putts. The leader made a bogey on 17 and then I made a 50-foot putt for the win on 18.”
The Bulldogs also got strong performances from several other players, as three other Elis placed in the top 20 of the individual leaderboards. Henry Cassriel ’18 finished in a tie for 13th with teammate Sean Yi ’21, as they both recorded a 215 (2 over par). Cassriel shot consistently with a 72, 72 and 71, while Yi contributed a 73, 72 and 70 over three rounds. Yi made an impressive run on the final back nine to shoot up the leaderboards, earning the praise of his captain and coach.
Captain Will Bernstein ’18 was in the top 10 after Saturday’s two rounds, along with Nicholas. The captain ultimately carded a 217, which was 4 over par, tying him for the 20th best score at Ithaca. Bernstein, Cassriel and Nicholas all eagled over the weekend, helping Yale lead the field in terms of total eagles.
“We know that on any given week, one of us can have a good week and win it,” Bernstein said. “I don’t think you can say that about a lot of other teams in the league. That [Nicholas] was able to win despite not playing his best says a lot about what we think of him as a player.”
Last week’s Doc Glimmer champion, Leonard, finished with a 226 at the Cornell Invitational. He shot a 75, 73 and 78 over three rounds. The last competing Bulldog was Paul Stankey ’21, whose 227 was tallied as an individual score and thus did not contribute to the team’s overall scorecard.
In addition to leading the 15 other teams in number of eagles, Yale also had the most pars and tied for the best team performance on par-3 holes. As individuals, Yi was the best player on par-3 holes and Nicholas was the top performer on par-4 holes. Additionally, the senior pair of Bernstein and Cassriel had the third- and fourth-most pars all weekend, a consistency evident in their three-round scores.
All Ivy opponents, save Harvard and Princeton, were in attendance this weekend at the Cornell Invitational. Last season at the same tournament, the Bulldogs finished in a tie for third with Siena, with Cornell winning the weekend.
“You don’t get many opportunities before Ivy championships to experience a head-to-head match with multiple teams coming down the stretch,” Bernstein said. “Everyone knew where we stood, every stroke mattered. The experience of playing under that pressure is invaluable, and it’s something we’ll look back to as a defining moment in terms of how we handled that pressure.”
The men’s squad returns to the links in two weeks for the Macdonald Cup, the tournament at which the graduated Li Wang ’17 recorded his NCAA record-setting 60 just a year ago on Yale’s home course.
Sebastian Kupchaunis | firstname.lastname@example.org | @