Sports

At Ivy tournament, Bruno upsets rivals

By
Sports Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The men’s fall golf season culminated in impressive fashion this weekend with victories over Harvard and Yale en route to a third-place finish in the Ivy League Match Play Championship hosted by Princeton. It was Bruno’s highest finish in the tournament since its creation in 2009.
“I know our finish shocked a lot of people, but it didn’t shock the kids,” said Head Coach Michael Hughes.
“It was obviously huge for us to get third,” said co-captain JD Ardell ’13. “Last tournament, when we beat Dartmouth, Cornell and Penn, we realized we could compete with these teams.”
The match play format of the tournament, which differed from the typical stroke play tournaments in which the Bears often compete, factored into the team’s success.
“For me personally, I like match play because every hole is its own match,” Justin Miller ’15 said. “Every hole is a fresh start.”
“When you play match play, you can get away with two or three bad holes, unlike in stroke play,” Hughes said.
The team, which in recent seasons has found itself competing against Cornell to avoid last place in the Ivy League, has now beaten five of the seven other Ivy League schools this fall, including Yale, the top seed at the Ivy Match Play Championship.
“We’ve beaten just about all of (the Ivy League),” Hughes said. “We’re no longer the cellar dwellers we have been.”
“We couldn’t have had a better way to end our season other than winning (the Ivy Match Play Championship),” Miller said. “We’ve proven to ourselves that we can hang with everyone in our league.”
Bruno entered the tournament as the sixth seed. Miller began the team’s weekend with a convincing victory over Harvard’s Michael Lai, winning his match 6 and 5. Peter Callas ’14, playing as the two seed for Bruno, had a strong performance as well, winning his match 5 and 4. Nelson Hargrove ‘13.5, playing as the top seed, carried the Bears to victory over Harvard, 3-2, with a 1 up victory. Ardell and Jack Wilson ’16 dropped close matches in the team’s two losses.
The Bears did not fare as well against a strong Princeton squad, losing the match 3-0-2. The team was still in a position to finish among the top three but had to face a formidable Yale team, which placed ahead of the Bears in two of the season’s earlier tournaments.
“I felt very confident going into the match,” Hughes said. “I felt that we were better than Yale one through five.”
Hughes’ confidence was realized after victories from Hargrove, Miller and Wilson. In a tight match, Hargrove defeated Yale’s Bradley Kushner, considered one of the premier golfers in the Ivy League. Miller, with a touch of deja vu, won his match 6 and 5, while Wilson also pulled out a close victory, winning 1 up.
“Nelson was outstanding. He had so many clutch holes that could have gone the other way,” Hughes said. “Some of Justin’s matches were routs.”
“Justin dominated in his first and third matches,” Ardell said. “He and Nelson were the big stars. (Nelson) had the ability to come back, handle the intensity and put everything on his back to get the win.”
Though the team finished the fall season on a high note, the coach and the golfers said they do not expect complacency to set in during the winter layoff.
“We have to look at the highs and the lows. If there’s one glaring area that jumps out at you, it is holing putts,” Hughes said. “We did it really well in the match play portion. We need to think of the match play stroke when we’re playing stroke play.”
“In past years, we came back and were trying to get our game back in shape,” Ardell said, “Now we’re going to be improving upon it instead.”
Hargrove echoed the captain’s sentiments.
“Honestly, you have to do a lot of work during the offseason and improve so we’re ready to go in the spring,” Hargrove said. “We try to get ready as much as we can over the winter.”
Having shown that the team can compete against the Ivy League’s top competitors, Bruno can focus on its main goals: a victory at the Ivy League Championship in the spring and a berth in the NCAA tournament.
“This (finish) really confirmed it for us. We are – not to quote Dennis Green – who we think we are,” Ardell said.
“We’re a really talented team,” Hargrove said. “We just need to get out of our own way.”

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