SteveMusco

Two weeks ago at the Cornell Invitational, the Yale men’s golf team excelled but came up one stroke short. But this weekend, in yet another close final round, victory could not escape the Bulldogs two weeks in a row: The squad won the Macdonald Cup — its only home tournament of the fall season — to earn its first victory of the 2017–18 campaign.

While the Bulldogs all finished within four strokes of each other, Yale’s success extended to its B-team as well. The second group finished fourth overall in the 14-team field, ahead of Ivy League competitors Princeton, Penn, Dartmouth and Brown.

Yale posted a three-round team score of 852 and completed the weekend at 12 over par, edging Scotland’s Stirling University by a single stroke. The team win comes on the heels of two consecutive tournaments at which a Bulldog golfer finished with the top individual score. While no Yale player led the field this weekend, four members of the team finished within the top ten and three more finished within the top 20 of the 81-player field.

“It’s great for the team to get a big win like this, especially after some close calls in recent tournaments,” Eoin Leonard ’19 said. “It shows our steady improvement throughout the season, and it’s great that our hard work is paying off.”

Henry Cassriel ’18 and James Nicholas ’19 finished the tournament tied for fifth place and were first among the Elis at three over par. Nicholas, who won the Cornell Invitational two weeks ago, shot a 71 in each round, while his teammate Cassriel shot a 70, 71 and 72 over three rounds.

Leonard — who won the Doc Glimmer tournament three weeks ago — led the Bulldogs through the first two rounds on Saturday. His score of 69 in the second round was the best 18-hole score of any Bulldog golfer all weekend, and he also averaged the best score on par-five holes. Leonard ultimately closed out the weekend at four over par, good for eighth place.

Following closely behind was captain Will Bernstein ’18, who finished the day with a 216 (+6) and shot a 73, 70 and 73 over three rounds. Rounding out the scorecard was Sean Yi ’21, who was one stroke behind his captain and finished tied for 13th place with a score of 217.

After winning the Macdonald Cup in 2014, the Bulldogs placed seventh the following year and third last season. Despite the third-place finish, last year’s Macdonald Cup was still a special occasion, since Li Wang ’17 recorded the lowest round ever by an NCAA Division I golfer. With the win this time around, the team has now won five of the last nine Macdonald Cups.

The win is also the Elis’ first victory since they placed first at the Yale Invitational last spring: the only first-place finish recorded last season. Home-course advantage has been significant for the Bulldogs, as they have not won outside of New Haven since September 2015, when the team finished first at the Doc Gimmler in Farmingdale, N.Y.

“It’s a cool feeling to have the team aspect in golf, since it’s usually such an individual sport,” Nicholas said. “The reason for our success is the trust and confidence we all have in one another. If I’m having a bad round, I know I have four other guys out there who are good enough to pick up the slack.”

The fourth-place finish by Yale’s second team — composed entirely of underclassmen — among Ivy competition was a testament to the squad’s depth and young talent this year, team members said. Eric Hall ’20 and Perry Xin ’21 tied for 20th overall, finishing with 220s (+10). Jordan Weitz ’20 and Paul Stankey ’21 tied for 29th place, while Teddy Zinsner ’21 placed 44th.

“The success of our ‘Team B’ illustrates the type of depth we have,” Bernstein said. “I was also specifically impressed with Sean Yi, who showed time and time again that he can excel under pressure. You expect to see that composure from upperclassmen, but to see that from a first year is incredibly encouraging for the future of our program.”

Next up for the red-hot Bulldogs is a trip to Atlanta, Georgia, this weekend for the Autotrader.com Classic, where they will compete against strong national competition. The Bulldogs’ first team has finished in the top four in every tournament so far this fall.

Masha Galay | marie.galay@yale.edu