Following two months of competition in the fall and a winter hiatus, the Yale women’s golf team is resuming play for the spring season in Georgia as it prepares for the Ivy League Championships in late April.
The Bulldogs will lean on a balanced roster of eight competitors in their attempt to win the Ancient Eight championship and a NCAA Regionals berth, which Princeton claimed last year. After two top-10 finishes in the fall season at the Dartmouth and Princeton Invitationals, the Elis carded their best result thus far on their home turf after taking seventh place at the Yale Invitational. Now, the team will hit the links in a warmer locale, competing at the Reynolds Lake Oconee Collegiate Championship hosted by Mercer in Greensboro, Georgia.
“The team is definitely looking forward to starting season in Georgia, where the weather will no doubt be much more conducive to golf than New Haven’s snowstorms,” said Lucy Liu ’21, who is also a staff reporter for the News. “We haven’t been getting much on-course practice due to the weather, so we’re going into this tournament with less preparation than I would like, but I’m looking forward to travelling with the team and representing Yale down south.”
Yale showed improvement in each of its first four collegiate tournaments, bettering its performance at each event. Teammates expressed that the Bulldogs’ seventh-place finish at the Course at Yale, which matched last year’s score at the same event, might be a turning point that propels the team to greater success in the latter half of the season.
Leading the team this spring is captain Julie Luo ’19. Following an impressive run with the Bulldogs in her first three years, Luo has come into her own in the final season of her collegiate career, most recently cracking the top 20 at the Yale Invitational.
Luo has big shoes to fill this season following the departure of Jennifer Peng ’18, last year’s star senior and previous captain. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, Peng finished third overall at the Ivy League Championships in 2018. With Luo as the only senior on the roster, the team welcomed three first years this year, and the newest members have been invaluable to the team.
The story of the fall season was Ami Gianchandani ’22, whose quick rise through the ranks has seen her win tournaments with the confidence of a veteran. Gianchandani won the Princeton Invitational after shooting rounds of 74 and 67, which included five birdies on the final nine, and followed her performance by posting the team’s lowest score at the Yale Invitational a week later. Yale’s two other fresh faces are Coco Chai ’22 and Dana Branstetter ’22. Chai had the Bulldogs’ second lowest score at the Princeton Invitational and third lowest at the Yale Invitational.
“We’re very excited for the rest of the season because we have been training very hard over the off-season,” Chai said. “I’m looking forward to seeing our hard work pay off.”
The Reynolds Lake Oconee Collegiate Championship will be Yale’s only event in February, meaning the Bulldogs have a few weeks to rest before a jam-packed March. Beginning March 12, the team will have seven days of competition over an eight-day stretch at two events — the Pinehurst and Kingsmill Intercollegiates — followed by the two-day Harvard Spring Invite where Yale will take on its perennial Ivy League rival.
Yale’s spring slate will culminate with the Ivy League Championships, a three-day event beginning April 21, in which the team hopes to improve upon its sixth-place finish in 2018. Last year, the Bulldogs improved from a score of 319 on the first day to 311 by the third, but still finished 19 strokes behind fifth-place Dartmouth. The Elis will use the spring season to prepare for the Ivy finale, which they hope will serve as redemption for last season.
Yale tees off at the Great Waters Course at the Reynolds Lake Oconee Collegiate Championship this Sunday and Monday.
Alex Reedy | email@example.com