Sports

Lynch’s ’17 heroics lift men’s golf team to seventh at Ivy Match Play Championship

Despite solid play against the top-ranked Bulldogs, Bruno finished at the bottom of the conference

By
Contributing Writer
Monday, October 21, 2013

Despite one of its strongest showings of the season, a narrow first round loss in the Ivy Match Play Championship left Bruno in the bottom half of the tournament, where the team finished in seventh place.

Yale won the tournament by defeating Harvard in the championship match. Columbia finished third, and Princeton, who hosted the event at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., was fourth.

The eighth-seeded Bears nearly upturned the Elis in the first round, dropping a heavily contested 4-3 decision to the top seed. Based on the match play format, this meant four of Yale’s seven golfers won head-to-head matches — as opposed to cumulative stroke play — against Brown’s golfers.

“To lose by the skin of our whiskers was hard to take,” said Head Coach Michael Hughes, adding, “We played well enough to win.”

The loss immediately meant the Bears could finish no higher than fifth place.

After coming so close to knocking off the top team in the tournament, Bruno was “a little disheartened,” Hughes said, and it showed. They lost 5-2 to Penn, setting up a final-day showdown against Cornell to determine last place.

Bruno prevailed, 4-3, in large part due to the contributions of Connor Lynch ’17. Trailing by one hole heading into the last of his matchup, he sunk a 40-foot putt for birdie in order to force extra holes and keep the Bears’ seventh place hopes alive.

He reproduced his magic on the first playoff hole, making a 30-foot downhill putt to win the hole and his match, propelling the team to victory over the Big Red. “It was pretty exciting,” Lynch said.

“We were all pretty fired up about him,” said Nelson Hargrove ’13.5, describing the putts Lynch made as “ridiculous.”

Hughes also complimented Lynch’s performance, along with those of captain Peter Callas ’14 — who won all three of his individual matches — and Hargrove.

Apart from Lynch, Hargrove tallied the biggest individual accomplishment of the day by beating Yale’s Sam Bernstein, whom both Hargrove and Hughes said was “the best player in the Ivy League.”

Justin Miller ’15 had uncharacteristic difficulty at the tournament, losing all three of his individual matches despite shooting the second best score on the team in the previous weekend’s Big Five Invitational.

“It was definitely not my best stuff,” Miller said. But the quality of his opponents seemed to play a larger role in his losses rather than any individual poor performance.

“I ran into some kids who did play great,” Miller said. Hughes agreed, saying, “Justin ran into three buzz saws.”

With their fall slate completed, the team has turned an eye toward the future. The team hopes to keep its games “sharp” over the winter, Lynch said, and the players have their sights set high for the spring.

“There’s no reason we can’t compete with every team for a league championship,” Miller said.

Hargrove agreed, saying he’d “love to win the Ivy League championship.”

“To make regionals individually would be huge,” he said, referring to the regional stage of the NCAA Men’s Golf Championship. Thirteen teams and 10 individuals whose teams did not qualify — or 14 teams and five individuals — make it to each of the six regional competitions on at-large bids, given to teams and players who did not win their conference tournaments.

The fall season may not have been what the Bears imagined, but after showing flashes of being Ivy League contenders, they will try to capture their full potential in the spring.

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