Men’s golf finishes sixth in Ivy League Championships

by Jasper Bingham | 4/27/15 5:12pm

The men’s golf team hit the links this weekend for the final time this season as they squared off against the rest of the Ancient Eight at the Ivy League Championships in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Shooting a 921 for the weekend, the Big Green placed sixth and came away 36 strokes behind the top-finishing University of Pennsylvania Quakers.

The championships were held at the par-72, 7,091-yard Grace Course at the Saucon Valley Country Club. The weather conditions on the course were a bit difficult the first two days but improved by Sunday, Charlie Edler ’15 said.

“The [physical] condition of the course was immaculate the entire week,” Edler said. “The first day it was super windy, pretty cold, the second day it was cold but not as windy and the third day was beautiful.”

Scott Jaster ’17 was the standout performer for the Big Green, as he has been for much of the season, shooting a 228 for the weekend and finishing in 14th overall among the field of 40 golfers. Edric Wung ’18 started the tournament hot, shooting a 75 the first day, good for fourth place and only three strokes behind the competition leader.

Wung could not maintain his momentum, however, and dropped to 11th on the second day before landing a 24th-place overall finish for the tournament. Edler also made the most of his final round as a collegiate athlete, marking a team-best of the day with 72 to bring him to 16th place overall.

“On the last day I played well, but on the first two days I definitely left some strokes out there,” Edler said.

The Big Green improved their group score with each day of competition but was outpaced by the other squads. It finished day one tied for fourth place with Yale University, before dropping to sixth after the second round, where it would remain through Sunday.

The real story of the championships was the duel between the Quakers and the Princeton University Tigers, who fought neck-and-neck for the top spot nearly the entire weekend. Going into the final round on Sunday, Penn sat four strokes behind their local rivals, but some impressive play from Quakers sophomore Dane Walton and senior Austin Powell helped the team surge and finish one stroke ahead in the final tally. Walton managed eagles on the 10th and 13th holes, while Powell, their last golfer, birdied four of the last six holes, carding a stellar 67. Penn became the first team in history to win the Ivy League golf championships after placing last in the league the year before.

A lack of facilities in the Hanover area to work on short game has been a persistent problem this spring for the team, men’s golf head coach Rich Parker said.

“Our course [at the Hanover Country Club] opens this Saturday. We haven’t been out, we haven’t had a chance to pitch balls,” Parker said. “We still could be better at it than we were in the spring in tournaments, but that’s a built-in excuse — one that we’re not going to use. We’ve faced these winters before. We need to chip and putt better.”

He added that the Big Green had excellent drives, but that effective chipping and putting was what separated the top teams.

“We hit the ball really well,” Parker said. “Our team has great ball strikers, starting to play a little bit smarter, [but] we need to chip and putt. That’s what the good teams did this weekend, and that’s what we’ll do going forward.”

Edler agreed with his coach’s assessment.

“We’re always good at driving and our iron play is pretty strong,” Edler said. “It’s kind of a consistent theme throughout the season. We’ve always been a great ball-striking team but we’ve struggled around the greens, and I think that was kind of the case this week as well.”

Looking forward, the team looks to shift the way they handle adversity.

“We’re looking to have a more positive attitude when we go out and play,” Wung said. “[We can’t] be so negative and down when things aren’t going well.”

The team will also welcome two new players in the coming year, including John Lazor from Belmont Hill School in Massachusetts, who Wung called “one of the best recruits in the country.” Parker added that he believes Jeffrey Lang ’17 will return to consistent form after struggling this spring and improve team’s depth.