Jumbos look to improve in time for NESCAC qualifiers

The Tufts golf team hopes to qualify for the NESCAC championship Courtesy Paul Sweeney

In their first tournament of the fall season, the men’s golf team finished ninth out of 20 teams this past Saturday and 13th overall on Sunday at the par-71 Williams Invitational at the Taconic Golf Club.

On the first day, junior Owen Elliott led the team, shooting three-over par for a score of 74, finishing in the top 10 of all players. Tufts finished with a combined score of 309 after the first day. 

“The forecast for the weekend was supposed to be rainy, [and] it [did rain] a little on Saturday,” Elliott said. “But on Sunday, surprisingly, the rain held off, [though] it got kind of windy. The team played great on Saturday, I would say higher than expectations, and we were hoping to roll that into Sunday, but with the higher winds, we struggled a bit.”

Besides Elliott, sophomores Aaron Corn, Shane Visram and senior co-captain Brendan Koh all performed admirably and all shot under 80 to score for Tufts.

“[Corn] played in a lot of the events last year … but he was our five guy,” Elliott said. “This year he’s really stepped up, and he is our three or four guy [now]. He played great this weekend. Shane [also] played well enough to qualify this week, and he had a great first round.”

Elliott’s strong performance continued through the invitational’s second day. He led the team on both Saturday and Sunday, and ultimately, his  74-76-150 score allowed him to tie for seventh individually with four other players. Trinity first-year Will Rosenfield finished the tournament with a two-day score of 143, after finishing one-under par on the second day.

Elliott was the only Jumbo to score under 80 on Sunday. Corn scored second for Tufts overall, posting a score of 158. Senior co-captain Jay Wong was Tufts’ second-best scorer on the second day when he finished with 80, and the team eventually compiled a two-day total of 632 strokes, behind eventual champion Trinity’s two-day score of 601. 

Despite dropping in the overall standings on the second day, the Jumbos should take comfort in the fact that when the NESCAC qualifiers are played at the Taconic Golf Club in three weeks, they will already be familiar with the course. This weekend’s invitational also allowed the newer players to get a feel for the course and they now have time to adjust their play for upcoming competitions.

“[Our performance] was decent, but [there is] room for improvement,” Koh said. “[This weekend’s performance] acted as an early indication on areas of our games that needed improvement and shots we need to work on for the course.”

Coach Bob Sheldon recently left his position as head coach of the golf team in order to concentrate on basketball, where he’s also at the helm. Because of this move, former assistant coach George Pendergast was promoted to head coach of the golf team. Koh has worked with Pendergast since Koh’s first year at Tufts and has absolute confidence in the new head coach’s leadership ability and direction for the golf team.

“We have not reached our full potential yet, and we will keep practicing until we get there,” he said.

The team will be competing in the Duke Nelson Invitational at Middlebury College on Sept 19., followed by a one-day tournament on Sept. 20. NESCAC qualifiers begin Oct 3., and the team is hoping to have a good showing at the tournament after falling short of making the playoffs last year.

Though the team’s goal this fall is to do well in the qualifiers, Elliott is also looking toward another, perhaps less high profile event this season.

“I’m excited for our first home match on Sept. 23 at Franklin Park,” he said. “It’ll probably [be] the only time in my Tufts career where people will be able to come to the event, so hopefully there’ll be a good turn out.”