The men’s golf team exhibited early season rust at the Bowdoin Invitational this past weekend, placing ninth out of 13 teams with a total team score of 659. Tufts, which finished 54 strokes behind first-place Middlebury, was led by junior Alex Zorniger, who finished tied for 28th out of 71 entrants after shooting a two-day total of 162.
“I think we could have played much better at Bowdoin,” sophomore Matt Lesnik said. “The course was not too difficult, but we were all rusty since it was the first tournament of the season.”
Although the tournament did not bring the success the Jumbos had hoped for, there were some individual bright spots. Zorniger’s first-round score of 77 put him in ninth place following the first day of competition on Saturday.
On Sunday, sophomore Jay Wong shot an 80, the low score for the team. Wong finished the tournament with a score of 164, good for 34th, but three strokes higher than his total at the 2012 Bowdoin Invitational.
Following Wong for the Jumbos was Lesnik, who posted Tufts’ second best score on Saturday, 81, and then an 84 on Sunday for a weekend total of 165, tied for 35th.
Junior John Wawer shot an 84 on both Saturday and Sunday, placing him 44th. Tufts’ final entrant, sophomore Brandon Koh, finished with a weekend total of 174, but his score did not factor into the Jumbos’ final team mark.
Despite their underwhelming performance at Bowdoin, the Jumbos return all of their top players from last year’s squad and know how to handle the season’s ups and downs.
“Our big strength is that we have a lot of collegiate competitive experience,” Zorniger said. “This is the third year with pretty much the same core, and while we were young the past couple of years, we’ve now got a veteran presence on the team. We are comfortable in those stressful situations that come about when we’re in the hunt or when things aren’t going as well as we’d expect them to.”
Significant room for improvement remains. No Tufts player shot under 80 on Sunday, and few players were able to post strong scores on consecutive days.
“We need to improve on consistency,” Lesnik said. “Everyone on the team is capable of going low and putting out a good score, but we need to do that on a consistent basis.”
The team will look to rebound at the Duke Nelson Invitational at Middlebury this weekend. Last season, the Jumbos finished 17th at the same tournament, posting a weekend score of 651. They were led by Wong and Wawer, who tied for 29th individually with a score of 158.
“I think we need to put more of our focus on preparation, rather than performance,” Zorniger added. “If we do what we need to do during the week to prepare, we can relax and let the competition take care of itself. We tend to do the opposite, where we let up during the week and then try to lock in for the competition.”
Having already put the Bowdoin Invitational behind them, the Jumbos will look to gain momentum against most of the top teams in New England.
“I’m excited about the opportunity we have this year,” Zorniger said. “When my class came in, Tufts had lost four of five starters and was looking to rebuild. Now that my class has matured, and with help from some new additions, this is really the time to take that next step forward … and compete for conference titles.”