Courtesy of Steve Musco

Falling just short of last year’s win, the Yale men’s golf team finished seven strokes behind Illinois to finish as the runner-up at the annual Macdonald Cup held at the Yale Golf Course.

Captain James Nicholas ’19 claimed his second victory of the regular season at the event after shooting a 15-under 195, seven strokes in front of Illinois’ Bryan Baumgarten. The rest of the team posted strong scores in the first two rounds with back-to-back 273s but faltered in the final round with a 286 to finish with an eight-under 832.

“We stuck in there with arguably the best golf program in the country for two and a half rounds,” Nicholas said. “That gave us a lot of confidence, but it was also very humbling.”

Nicholas led the field at the Macdonald Cup from the beginning after firing consecutive 64s to establish an early lead. He kept his cool under pressure heading into the clubhouse and finished with a 67 in the final round to take the title, an eight-stroke improvement from his performance in 2017.

This tournament marked a continuation of solid play for the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year. Nicholas has finished in the top two for the Bulldogs and top 20 overall for every match of the regular season thus far.

“It was just a great weekend,” Nicholas said. “It made us realize that if we work hard, we can really reach our goals.”

On the scoreboard, Eoin Leonard ’19 and Teddy Zinsner ’21 followed Nicholas, with both golfers shooting 212 to tie for 15th. Leonard demonstrated his characteristic consistency by going 70-74-68 with just six strokes separating his lowest and highest rounds.

“We showed we can compete with some of the best teams in the nation, which gives us a lot of confidence going into the spring,” Leonard said. “It was also great to see James play so well, it was very impressive scoring and the team [is] all very proud of him.”

Just a week after his fifth-place finish in the strongest field of the regular season, Zinsner brought his A-game once again. Zinsner went low on his first Sunday round with a 66 but had a few missteps in his final round and closed with a six-over 76.

Coming in fourth for the Bulldogs was Darren Lin ’22, who continued the strong play of his first year on the team with a scorecard of 74-71-75.

Rounding out the Elis was Sean Yi ’21, who finished one stroke behind teammate Lin at 221. Despite hovering near the top of the leaderboard during the first two rounds after shooting 69-72, Yi’s final round score of 80 brought him down to middle of the pack at T36.

“There were definitely a lot of positives to take out from this weekend moving forward,” Yi said.

Playing as an individual over the weekend was Jordan Weitz ’20, marking his first round playing in a varsity event this fall. Although Weitz stumbled in his final round with an 82, his first two rounds of 71 and 69 demonstrate his skills and bode well for the remainder of his regular season.

The Macdonald Cup marks the last home tournament for the Elis this fall. In two weeks, the team will head to Rockaway Hunting Club in Lawrence, New York to play in the inaugural Harvard-Yale-Princeton matchup on neutral turf.

“Overall we had a very solid season,” Yi said. “We had success, but at the same time we know that there’s room for improvement, and we’re looking forward to getting at it in the offseason.”

The Bulldogs will return to competitive play in mid-March for a short but busy schedule before taking on their Ancient Eight rivals at the Ivy League Championship at the end of April, where they will attempt to repeat their success from the previous year.

Team members expressed confidence that they will retain the Ivy title and also committed to practicing over the winter to keep their game in shape.

“Personally, I can’t be more thankful to my coach, Colin Sheehan, for all his support,” Nicholas said. “It was a great fall and I can’t wait until the spring season starts up.”

The regular season will resume in the spring on March 16 at the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida.

Alex Reedy | .