The Yale women’s golf team opened the 2017 season with a victory at the Bucknell Invitational, but has faltered in its last two tournaments, posting its worst showing of the fall season this past weekend. Although captain Jennifer Peng ’18 placed second overall, the Bulldogs finished last of 10 teams in the Princeton Invitational, as the second- and third-highest finishing team members were left off the five-person roster for the tournament.
The Elis finished behind Ivy League competitors Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn and Princeton, which will all send golfers to the Yale Intercollegiate this coming weekend. The last-place result in New Jersey comes on the heels of an eighth-place finish at the 14-team Nittany Lion Invitational. With the first and only home tournament of the fall coming up this weekend, the team will look to regain its form from earlier in the season.
“This past weekend wasn’t great performance-wise, but we had switched things up and were experimenting with new things,” Julie Luo ’19 said. “We are all pumped for the Yale Intercollegiate and are ready to play some good golf, especially following the men’s team’s awesome performance this weekend.”
Providing one of the few highlights of the weekend, Peng finished second in the 63-player field. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Year has impressed so far this season, finishing second at the Bucknell Invitational and then placing seventh in individual play at the Nittany Lion Invitational.
Peng started the Princeton Invitational without missing a beat, recording birdies on holes three and 17 to finish the first round at just two over par. After another two birdies in the second round, she finished Saturday’s play tied in third place with Princeton’s Maya Walton with a score of 149 across two rounds of play. But Peng’s best performance came in the third round, when she recorded a total of four birdies and posted a score of 72, her lowest of the weekend. The Sunday rally propelled her to a second-place finish, a stroke above the two third-place golfers.
“It’s my fourth time playing the Princeton tournament, so I definitely knew the course much better, which helped me to play more strategically,” Peng said. “I was also hitting the ball pretty well, which helped me excel.”
Felicia Chang ’20 finished 16th, joining Peng in the top 20 to provide another bright spot in an otherwise underwhelming weekend for the Elis. The sophomore closed out the weekend 15 over par.
Chang birdied holes three, six, nine and 16 in the first round, and followed up her morning performance with an even better one in the afternoon. Two second-round birdies highlighted a score of 76 that bested her first-round effort by a stroke. After finishing the third round six over par, Chang dropped from 15th to 16th place, still closing out the tournament as the second-best Yale golfer and with the second-most birdies of any of the 63 players in the tournament. The next Eli in the final standings was Luo, who wrapped up play with a score of 237, good for 37th place.
However, to the chagrin of the Elis, both Chang and Luo were entered as individuals instead of members of the team, which meant the next scorer on the Yale squad after Peng was Jayshree Sarathy ’18, who placed 48th after recording a three-round score of 242.
Rookies Gabbie DeSombre ’21 and Lucy Liu ’21 followed Sarathy on the Yale scorecard. DeSombre finished 51st overall after a tough final round, while Liu ended the weekend two strokes behind her teammate with a final score of 247, good for 54th. Rounding out team play for the Elis was Beryl Wang ’20, who finished 35 over par and tied for 59th place.
“It was hard as a team because conditions were definitely tough. It was pretty windy and the greens were very firm, which a lot of people were not used to,” Peng said. “Leading into next week, I think the team just needs to focus on our strengths. Having the home-course advantage is also a plus.”
The Bulldogs will host the 18-team Yale Women’s Intercollegiate on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Course at Yale.
Masha Galay | firstname.lastname@example.org