The Yale men’s golf team looks to cap off a memorable season with a victory at the Ivy League Championship this weekend at Egg Harbor Township in New Jersey.
Coming off back-to-back victories, the team is riding a wave of momentum into the championship tournament. Last Saturday, the Bulldogs secured first place in the twelve-team Yale Spring Invitational, and the prior weekend, they triumphed at the Princeton Invitational. But according to senior captain James Nicholas ’19, the Elis can’t let their triumphant performances get to their heads.
“As a team, we need to forget about all of our past success,” Nicholas said. “We need to know that we are the best team going into this weekend, but we can’t get complacent. We have a lot of work to do this week to prepare for Ivies. We have to go in there confident, knowing we have to play our game to win.”
Nicholas has been meticulously preparing for the upcoming weekend. He explained that though he is unfamiliar with the course, he has been using Google Maps to strategize and draw up his tee shots.
Nicholas has a promising professional career in his future. But Nicholas insists that helping Yale clinch a championship this season is his primary concern.
“I’m going to turn pro later this year and pursue the golf career, but my eyes are set on this weekend and trying to take home another Ivy League Championship,” Nicholas said. “Obviously, that’s in the back of my mind, but first and foremost is trying to get the job done this weekend.”
Still, inclement weather may challenge the Elis’ game plans. The forecast looks brutal, with heavy rain and 25 mile-per-hour winds likely to drench the golfers.
However, Paul Stankey ’21, who had the lowest individual score in the Princeton Invitational, refuses to see the weather as a curse. Instead, he sees it as an advantage due to his experience golfing in these conditions.
“Personally, I kind of like the crappy weather, because I’m from Minnesota,” Stankey said. “I play lots of golf in awful weather. Mostly it’s a mental thing. You realize you’re not going to shoot 66, and if you shoot an even par round, it will put you in a good spot on the leaderboard.”
This will be a long weekend of golf for the Elis. The team will be travelling tomorrow and will play a practice round to prepare for the three-round tournament on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Head coach Colin Sheehan expressed mild discomfort regarding this unfamiliar structure, as most tournaments are traditionally two days long. However, he believes that this is not a problem for the dominant Bulldog squad.
“It’s weird for us to play a three-day event, with one round a day, but we need to be patient and disciplined and trust our instincts,” Sheehan said. “We’re not really going to alter our approach for this event, we’re just going to try to be the smartest team out there.”
If the Bulldogs do what it takes, they are likely to triumph this weekend. The last two weeks have been filled with competition against Ivy rivals, and no team has finished within less than six strokes of the Elis. Penn came closest in its loss to Yale last weekend.
Regardless of how the tournament shakes out, Sheehan said he could not be prouder of his team. He remarked this has been one of his most memorable seasons in his 11 years as a coach.
“I texted the guys the other night, and I feel this way: no matter how the season ends, I’m proud of this team, the 2018-19 team,” Sheehan said. “They’ve worked hard. They’ve had success. They’ve just been a great group of individuals, a great group of players, a great group of student-athletes.”
The Bulldogs will compete for the Ivy League championship on Friday, April 19; Saturday, April 20; and Sunday, April 21. All of the Ancient Eight teams will compete at Egg Harbor Township in New Jersey.
When asked how Yale can capture the Ivy League title, Sheehan was concise: “Shoot one lower than everyone else.”
Reese Koppel | firstname.lastname@example.org