Ami Gianchandani ’22 is on top of her game.
Following her second-place finish at the Dartmouth Invitational two weeks ago, Gianchandani placed first at the Princeton Invitational this past weekend and helped the Bulldogs finish fourth overall.
At her home state in New Jersey, Gianchandani held on to a lead. She was challenged down the stretch by Princeton’s Grace Ni, who moved up six places on the final day of the tournament. Still, the sophomore emerged victorious after posting a tournament-best score of 67 on Saturday and birdieing on her last two holes to pad her lead. Posting a score of 294 on both days of the tournament, Yale was consistent throughout the weekend and finished 13 strokes behind winner Seton Hall.
“Ami was quite impressive this weekend,” head coach Lauren Harling said. “With two holes to play, she asked me where she stood on the leaderboard and proceeded to birdie her last two holes. She is a special player and that was one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen from a collegiate player.”
Gianchandani was not the only player who stood out in the Garden State this weekend. Rookie Kaitlyn Lee ’23 also posted an impressive top-ten finish, placing eighth overall. Fellow first year Amy Zhang ’23 achieved a rare feat in the first round and eagled on the third hole.
Yale’s fourth-place finish doesn’t reflect the level of strong play that the Bulldogs showcased this weekend. Yale led the field in birdies, par four average and tied Seton Hall in par five performance with 36, 4.18 and 4.73 respectively.
“I think this team is finally starting to see how good they can actually be,” Harling said. “We are going to continue to work on staying focused and in the moment during pressure situations. They are getting into a groove and have really done a great job with putting themselves in position to score each round.”
Seton Hall was the only team to finish under par after posting an incredible 283 the first day. The South Orange college proceeded to beat second-place Princeton by a healthy margin of seven strokes. Individually, Gianchandani was one of only four players to finish under par along with Ni and Seton Hall’s Samantha Staudt and Sarah Fouratt.
Ivy League rivals Princeton and Penn finished second and third, respectively. The Tigers bested the Bulldogs by six strokes, while only two shots separated the Elis and Quakers. Yale looks to improve in preparation for the Ivy League Championship, which will decide which team passes on to regionals and wins a bid for NCAA Division I glory.
Yale has a lot to look forward to, given the strong performance of its first-year players already in the 2019 campaign.
“My game felt pretty solid this weekend,” Lee said. “On the first day, my approach shots were consistent for the most part, which gave me many birdie opportunities … I didn’t think I played as well the second day even though the scores didn’t depict that. I missed more greens and fairways, but my short game and putting helped make up for that.”
The Elis look to build on this play as they prepare for this weekend’s tournament at home. The Yale Invitational will be the third tournament the Bulldogs compete in before finishing this leg of the season next week in Austin at the Betsy Rawls Invitational.
The Elis placed sixth at last year’s fall intercollegiate tournament at home. The tournament will be played over three days from Oct. 4-6. Last year, the Boston University Terriers won the tournament.
“There are a lot of great players coming to Yale this weekend, so anything less than my best golf won’t be enough,” Gianchandani said. “I am really looking forward to having some fans come out this weekend and having our whole team together.”
The Elis will tee off on Friday to start Parents’ Weekend.
Eugenio Garza Garcia | firstname.lastname@example.org