In the midst of a stellar season, the Bulldogs, who are currently ranked No. 1 in the Ivy League according to Golfstat, are poised to win the Ivy League Championship in three weeks. Winning the season-culminating invitational would give the Elis their second straight Ancient Eight title and their third since 2011.
“We know there is strong competition from the other Ivy teams, so we’ll have to keep working hard and stay focused so we can maintain our position,” Eoin Leonard ’19 said.
Two weekends ago, the Bulldogs played in their second event of the spring season, finishing sixth out of 21 teams at the Furman Intercollegiate with a final team score of 14-over par. Teddy Zinsner ’21 and captain James Nicholas ’19 led the team with eighth and ninth place overall finishes, respectively, with Zinsner at one-under and Nicholas at one-over.
James Nicholas ’19 told the News that he was ambivalent regarding his individual performance.
“Personally, I’ve felt mixed,” Nicholas said. “I’ve played well, but not at my potential. I’ve been hitting the ball great, but I just have to make some more putts.”
On the first day of the tournament in South Carolina, Yale carded a five-over, 289, which left the Elis tied for fourth place after one round. The first day was highlighted by a one-under round from Nicholas as well as a solid one-over performance by Zinsner.
The second day featured a slight improvement. Yale scored a four-over, 288, to end the middle round in sixth place, where the Bulldogs would remain for the remainder of the tournament. Zinsner’s one-under 70 and Nicholas’s even-par 71 showcased their incredible consistency at a difficult course. With overall scores of 212 and 214 after the conclusion of 54 holes, the pair finished among the top 10 on the individual leaderboard.
Zinsner said he was particularly impressed by the team’s performance given Yale’s locational disadvantage. Due to the differences between the climates of Connecticut and South Carolina, many of the other teams enjoyed the luxury of practicing outside throughout the winter.
“We showed that we were able to compete with a lot of the teams in the South, teams that were able to practice all winter long,” Zinsner said. “That was huge for team morale.”
At the moment, team morale is high for the Bulldogs, who lead the Ivy League in scoring and have proven to be formidable opponents against their Ancient Eight foes. Now, they will turn their attention towards their final two regular season events before the Ivy Championship between April 19 and 21.
The Bulldogs will first travel to Princeton to compete against their age-old rival and five other Ivy League squads this Sunday and Monday. Last season at the Princeton Invitational, Yale overcame a six-shot deficit on the final day to win the team championship with a 570, while Nicholas finished second overall among 69 individuals.
“Going into Princeton, we can’t be complacent,” Nicholas said. “We have to stick to our plan and be confident.” “Conditions are tough in the spring, greens are bumpy, but you have to get used to it.”
The team is also confident in its ability to navigate some of the difficulties that come with collegiate golf. More seasoned veterans such as Nicholas and Eoin Leonard ’19 assist younger golfers by sharing their expertise and experience.
The Bulldogs’ dynamic duo of seniors have combined to win six individual championships at various tournaments during their time in New Haven. Leonard and Nicholas serve as role models both during practice and in live matches and push the younger players to reach their full potential.
“They’ve played all these courses more than we sophomores have, but James and Eoin are such good players that push everyone else,” Zinsner said. “They’re working hard, so we work hard too.”
Still, both seniors asserted that there is not too much they actively have to do to help the team. Nicholas explained that they provide some technical help, guiding their teammates through the courses they have repeatedly played since the beginning of their collegiate careers. But the Bulldogs’ underclassmen boast a promising crop of talented players who do not require all too much assistance in order to excel on the course, according to Nicholas.
“Eoin and I will let the younger guys know where to miss and what holes to take advantage of,” Nicholas said. “The young guys on the team are incredibly talented and knowledgeable about the game, so all we can give them is simple situational advice. I’m lucky to have such a talented sophomore and freshman class.”
The Bulldogs will compete at this Princeton Invitational this upcoming Sunday and Monday before returning home for the Yale Spring Invitational the following weekend. Yale’s season concludes with the Ivy League Championship in April at Hidden Creek in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.
Reese Koppel | firstname.lastname@example.org