In a highly anticipated event this weekend, the Yale men’s golf team defeated Harvard and Princeton in the first Harvard-Yale-Princeton match since 2011, marking the third win in a row for the Bulldogs at such an event.
Playing on neutral turf at the Rockaway Hunting Club in Long Island, the event consisted of alternate shot matches in the morning, followed by singles in the afternoon. After defeating the Crimson and the Tigers in 2010 and 2011, the Bulldogs defeated Harvard 9–2 and Princeton 7–3 to win the event 16–5 overall.
“The three teams were treated to an enjoyable departure from our ordinary stroke play, large-field format,” head coach Colin Sheehan ’97 said. “There was a terrific camaraderie amongst the players and coaches. The Rockaway Hunting Club was an ideal venue for the occasion and they graciously welcomed the players.”
Yale swept the four morning alternate shot matches, which featured a trio of four-ball sixsomes. A fourth group, which consisted of Matt Smith ’19 and Paul Stankey ’21, played alternate shot as a team against Harvard’s Brian Istzwan, who played his own ball.
Captain James Nicholas ’19 and Sean Yi ’21 led the Bulldogs while playing as the top seed against Princeton. The Elis narrowly defeated the Tigers with a 1-up lead.
“It was awesome playing with Sean,” said Nicholas, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year. “We never get to play match play, so it was a nice change.”
Eoin Leonard ’19 and Teddy Zinsner ’21, who handily beat their Harvard opponents and finished against Princeton, played behind Nicholas and Yi. Meanwhile, Stankey and Smith proved to be good partners after defeating their Crimson rival 4 and 3.
“It was a solid win for us,” Leonard said. “I played alternate shot a lot growing up, and I’ve always enjoyed the team aspect of it, as having a partner isn’t what normally happens in golf.”
Yale continued to play in dominant fashion once play resumed in the afternoon for the singles stage. Played as three-ball threesomes, each Bulldog played matches against a Harvard rival and a Princeton rival, who also competed against each other.
The Elis swept four of their six three-ball threesomes to win their regular season finale by 11 points.
Easily beating Harvard’s top players 4 and 2 and Princeton’s players 4 and 3, Nicholas continued his strong play in the afternoon. Darren Lin ’22 also won both of his matches, while Zinsner had some struggles in the afternoon, losing 1 down to Harvard. Still, he managed to finish all square to Princeton.
In only his second varsity match of the year, Matt Smith demonstrated the strength of his game after beating his Harvard competitors 3 and 2 and Princeton ones 7 and 6, with his margin over Princeton’s player being the largest of the tournament. Smith’s strong play in both of his fall season varsity events makes him a likely asset for spring tournaments.
The tri-match against Harvard and Princeton marks the end of a strong fall season for the Bulldogs. Over the past two months, Yale won at the Cornell Invitational, took second at the Macdonald Cup, and tied for second at the Doc Gimmler. The Elis placed in the top half at all their tournaments, demonstrating their consistency as well as their improvement upon last fall’s already-strong performance.
The Yale men’s golf team will return to the course at the Mission Inn Spring Spectacular in Florida on March 16th.
Alex Reedy| firstname.lastname@example.org .