Yale Athletics

Fresh off a three-under-par, first-place tournament finish, the Yale men’s golf team will look to sustain its winning ways at the Yale Spring Invitational this Saturday.

The men’s golf team took home its second first-place tournament result of the season at the Princeton Invitational last weekend. In a whirlwind of a tournament, the Bulldogs compensated for day one’s subpar level of play with an exceptional day two, enough both to overcome the standing deficit and to outdo the other 11 teams. Now, the team faces a quick turnaround as it hosts the Yale Invitational on Saturday.

“We are building up towards a more complete performance rather than a mixed performance, which was good enough to get it done this past weekend, but going into the future, we have to be incredibly sharp,” captain Will Bernstein ’18 said. “We are trying to eliminate any gaps in our play that have happened in the past or are possible going forward.”

Round one at Princeton proved difficult for the Elis. Bernstein struggled to a five-over-par 76, while Teddy Zinsner ’21 followed suit with a four-over 75. Despite commendable performances from Eoin Leonard ’19 and James Nicholas ’19 at one-under and par, respectively, the team’s collective score failed to position Yale advantageously for day two. Yale ended the round in fifth, having carded a 289.

Jordan Weitz ’20 also shot an open-round score of a one-under 70. As he competed at tournament as an individual, Weitz’s score did not contribute to Yale’s overall score.

The Elis entered the final day of competition hoping to secure a score of one-under par, which would allow them to win the overall tally by one, according to Bernstein. However, the Bulldogs’ early lead set the tone for the day, and Yale walked away victorious, having carded in a three-under to wipe away the six-shot deficit from the day before.

Yale earned an overall score of two-over 570 to end the tournament, besting second-place Penn by three strokes. Alongside Penn, Yale defeated five other members of the Ancient Eight. Princeton and Cornell tied for fourth overall, with Harvard placing seventh and Columbia and Brown tying for 10th.

Yale entered day two with ferocious energy. Nicholas birdied the first two holes alongside captain Bernstein, who birdied the first three holes. This early lead catapulted the Bulldogs from fifth place to first place. From that point, the Elis focused on maintaining the strong lead and sustaining the motivation cultivated from the earlier rounds.

“We kept ourselves in the event after day one and just needed to play our game on day two,” Nicholas said. “We need to refrain from getting complacent and continue to perform on the same level we have all year.”

Leonard and Weitz also posted overall scores of 142, landing them in a tie for fifth place. Bernstein carded a one-under on the final day, earning him an overall 146 to end the weekend. He, along with Sean Yi ’21, tied for 23rd overall among the 69 competitors.

This win marks Yale’s second tournament victory of the season, after a triumph at the Macdonald Cup in October. That status will be put to the test this weekend, as the Bulldogs host the annual Yale Spring Invitational to close out the 2017–18 regular season.

“In terms of this weekend, we are just focusing on playing as well as we can on the day and hope that that will be good enough to compete,” Leonard said. “We are much more focused on performing well this week.”

Yale has historically struggled to claim victory at the invitational, having won three times in the past 14 years. The Elis have struggled equally on an individual level, with only two individual winners within the same period. Yale triumphed in both categories in the 2016–17 season, with Bernstein taking home the individual plaudits after carding a one-under 139.

The Bulldogs are no stranger to The Course at Yale and will seek to capitalize on home-field advantage. However, Yale will have to compete against talented contenders Virginia and Tennessee, two top-30 teams.

“It is all about building momentum week by week. So, we had a good week last weekend, but we also know that at our home tournament, against tougher competition this weekend, we can’t have a bad first round,” Bernstein said. “We have to be sharper than we were the week before. We have a real opportunity to challenge these guys and show that we can compete on a national level. This gives us a chance to show that we can.”

Alongside Virginia and Tennessee, Yale will compete against Bucknell, Central Connecticut, Colgate, Fairfield, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Siena, St. John’s, and Ivy contenders Brown, Cornell and Penn.

The teams tee off at 7:20 a.m. at The Course at Yale this Saturday.

Lauren Cueto | lauren.cueto@yale.edu