The Yale men’s golf team entered this weekend’s Ivy League Championships undefeated this year against Ancient Eight opponents. Over the course of the three-day tournament, Yale left no doubt that it was the conference’s top team.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead on Friday that was never relinquished. Although Harvard matched Yale’s low score after two rounds, the Elis saved their best performance for Sunday, leaving the field in the dust as they put together a tournament-low 282 to win by 22 strokes. The win marks Yale’s first Ivy League title since 2011.
Yale’s victory was driven by several standout individual performances. Three of Yale’s golfers placed in the top five, and all four of the team’s scoring competitors finished in the tournament’s top 10. Eoin Leonard ’19 and James Nicholas ’19 tied after the 54-hole event, with Leonard prevailing in a one-hole playoff to capture the Ivy League individual title.
“This is a major accomplishment for the program, both collectively and individually,” captain Will Bernstein ’18 said. “Eoin and James played magnificently — as they have all season — to lead the team to victory. Teddy [Zinsner ’21] and Henry [Cassriel ’18] played great today to round up the performance.”
Yale tackled the first tournament leg with a 20-over-par 300, good enough to give it a one-shot lead over Penn and a three-shot advantage over Cornell. Dartmouth — which finished second overall once the dust settled on Sunday — trailed Yale by 17 strokes after Friday, a deficit from which the Big Green could never recover.
Four Bulldogs also secured an individual ranking of 10 or better after the first day. Bernstein led the Yale squad with a 3-over-par 73, which was tied for the second-best round of the day. Bernstein went on to finish in a tie for 10th overall across the three rounds.
Leonard’s first-round 75 positioned him in a tie for seventh and Nicholas’ and Cassriel’s 6-over-par 76s placed them at a tie for 10th place. Zinsner strayed not too far behind with a 13th place 7-over-par 77.
On Saturday, Yale had to contend with a surging Harvard squad that posted a day-low 292. A second-round 298 from the Elis had the historic rivals tied heading into Sunday.
Leonard, Nicholas and Bernstein all posted 5-over-par 75s during the second round, but the biggest individual mover for the Bulldogs was Zinsner, whose 3-over-par 73 allowed him to jump eight places from 13th to fifth.
With Harvard as the Ivy League Championships for the past two years and no Yale player in the individual top-two spots, the Elis had their work cut out for them heading into Sunday.
“The tournament took a lot of mental strength and stamina,” Leonard said. “It was a battle that definitely required a lot of patience which we luckily had.”
But Harvard went on to card the worst score of all eight teams on Sunday to play its way out of contention.
Meanwhile, the Elis posted the lowest score of the tournament, with two of their golfers tallying two of the five lowest scores of the weekend.
“We did not lose to an Ivy League opponent this year and showed our dominance in the final round,” Nicholas said. “I’m incredibly proud of these boys and can’t wait to bring it at Regionals.”
Leonard and Nicholas, the two Bulldogs who posted those scores, used the low rounds to surge to the top of the standings as they had last weekend at the Yale Spring Invitational. But this weekend the tie was resolved by a playoff won by Leonard.
Zinsner finished the tournament in a tie for fifth place, having posted a two-over 72 to end the tournament. Although Cassriel carded a 3-over-par 73 on Sunday, his 15th overall finish — although impressive in its own right — left him as the one non-scoring member of the Yale five.
The conference title secures the Bulldogs a NCAA regional bid. The three-day NCAA Regionals will kick off on May 14.
“The next goal is to prove that we can compete on a national stage,” Bernstein said. “The story continues at Regionals.”
Lauren Cueto | firstname.lastname@example.org