Big Green win Army Invitational

by Paul Costello | 5/7/97 5:00am

Good things come to those who wait, and the men's golf team has waited long enough -- four years, in fact. At this weekend's Army Invitational, the team won their first major tournament since their victory at Yale in the spring of 1993.

The golfers in the green and white managed to swing past a field of eight, including such golf powerhouses as Army, St. John's and the University of Connecticut, who recently won the New England's by an impressive margin.

After Saturday Dartmouth led the closest competitor by six strokes.

Coach Bill Johnson noted, "It was nice to see the guys become appropriately nervous and proceed to blow the field away."

By the end of the second round the teams lead would be stretched to sixteen strokes (611).

Co-Captain Steve Sugarman '97, capped off a week that included his admittance to Yale Law School, by winning the tournament with an astounding two day score of 73-73.

Considering that the players experienced torrential downpours Saturday and swirling winds Sunday, those scored were truly impressive. While most players endured the showers with cotton rain gloves, Sugarman realized on the second hole that his glove had been stolen.

If not for Johnson and Assistant-Coach Jamie Green, who occasionally took Sugarman's glove back to the West Point Golf Course clubhouse to be ironed, the trophy engraved, "Duty-Honor-Country" might have slipped through Sugarman's hands.

Johnson spoke proudly of Sugarman. "It took a lot of courage and heart to do what he did," Johnson said. "He set his goals, and with will and determination he accomplished them despite the weather."

"It was nice before I left to live up to some of the standards that I set for myself when I joined the team -- though it would have been nice to do it a bit earlier," Sugarman said with a smile.

Of Sugarman, Jay Danzi '98 said, "He's been a tremendous part of the team since he got here. It was great to see him end like that."

Great, as well, was Danzi's play, which earned him fourth place at the Army Invitational. Danzi managed to shoot a 76 on Saturday, even though tournament officials neglected to tell his group that preferred lies were to be taken due to the conditions.

Danzi's strategic weather management amid Sunday's swirling winds led him to a 77. "I would check out the trees and flagsticks with a wedge in my hand and then switch to a 7-iron."

While Jay Lavender '97 may have struggled with the conditions this weekend (87-85), his performance over the past three years has been nothing short of remarkable.

After expressing interest in joining the team and refining his game, Lavender was breaking 70 only a year later.

Johnson recalled how Lavender entered Dartmouth yet to break 100. "I wish Lav had another year," the coach said. "He's come along so quickly and yet, so well."

Luckily, co-Captain MacKenzie Hurd '98 does have one more year to lead the Big Green. While Johnson acknowledged that Hurd "got too mechanically bound up over winter" his two day score of 76-79 and eighth place finish proved that he is "now on top of his game."

His second day score could have been even a stroke better if not for Hurd's score miscalculation. "Well, I'm no math major," Hurd explained.

After shooting 81 on Saturday, and starting Sunday's round with five bogies, Chris Welty '00 relied on his improving mental game to post a strong 76 and finish eleventh.

Green believes "this strong finish will help our returning players. It proves to them that all the hard work was worth it."

With Hurd again in his stellar form, Danzi fully recovered from his wrist injury, Jon Heaton '99 back from France and working on his game, and the top two recruits on their way to Hanover, the team looks forward to a promising fall.

As for the New Haven-bound Sugarman, he admitted "I'll miss this place, but Yale's got a nice course too."