Golf | Jumbos fail to qualify for NESCAC Championships
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 09:10
The NESCAC Golf Championships may take place in late April, but before a team can even think of bringing home a conference championship, they must qualify in September. Over the weekend, the Jumbos unsuccessfully attempted to do just that by placing sixth in the competition at Bowdoin, two spots out of qualification.
Middlebury easily handled the field, winning 595-612 over Trinity, the runner-up. Amherst and Williams finished in third and forth, respectively, to round out the qualifiers. Given its victory, Middlebury will get to host the championship tournament in the spring.
Tufts finished Saturday’s portion in sixth place with a score of 318, 11 points outside of the top four. However, the course setup on Sunday was not conducive to the aggressive style of play the Jumbos needed to make major moves on the field.
“Pin positions were placed in dangerous locations and guarded well by water hazards and bunkers, and the wind made it challenging if your ball went above the tree line,” sophomore Brendan Koh said. “It was definitely a course which needed strategizing and focus and the ability to improvise when a shot did not go as planned.”
A repeat sixth place finish on Sunday kept the Jumbos sixth overall, and they will not be able to compete at the NESCAC Championships for the sixth consecutive year. Tufts’ Sunday score of 323 was too much of a drop-off as they were unable to overtake Williams for fourth place.
Individually, the Jumbos had a number of bright spots from the veteran golfers. Sophomore Jay Wong finished the weekend with the lowest score on the team. He was a model of consistency, shooting a 76 on Saturday, which he followed up with a 77 the next day. His two-day score of 153 was good for eighth place, making him the only Tufts golfer in the top ten. Two strokes back was junior John Wawer, while junior Sebastian Vik and Koh rounded out the scoring for the Jumbos, shooting 166 and 167, respectively.
With the rest of the season ahead of them, the Jumbos are taking the setback in context.
“Finishing in the top four in this tournament was our main goal,” Wawer said. “So while we are disappointed at the moment, we need to work on improving for the next tournament as well as the spring season.”
Junior Alex Zorniger placed fifth among Tufts golfers over the weekend, meaning the Jumbos’ main core all has collegiate golf experience even if it is still relatively young when compared to some of the top teams in the NESCAC.
“We got a very good feel for what it takes to qualify for the NESCAC finals,” Koh said. “The fact that we were close to qualifying after the first day shows us what we are actually capable of if we put our minds to it.”
With only two more tournaments remaining on the fall schedule, the Jumbos have their sights set on improving their respective games. Most notably, they hope to improve on the mental side of the game, especially after a weekend where the team felt as if they were piling on strokes to their scores at inopportune times.
“We seem to get in good spots in tournaments, then fade as the tournament goes on,” Wawer said. “The issue is not the talent level, as we have plenty of that, but rather the ability to have the whole team put solid rounds together on a consistent basis, not just one or two golfers at a time.”
Koh also saw areas for both individual and team improvement, even if they were in a different facet.
“Personally, it was getting used to the speed of the greens and challenging green-side approaches,” he said. “I feel that as long as we continue to practice diligently on the little kinds of each of our games, we will become much stronger as the season progresses.”
In two weeks, the Jumbos head to Rhode Island for the Johnson and Wales Fall Tournament. This will be the final tune-up before the New England Championship in Brewster, Mass., which will take place during the final weekend in October.