Tufts closes season, sends off seniors at Johnson and Wales

Glenn VanWinkle hits the ball for his second shot of the seventh hole at the Newbury Invitational on Wednesday, Sep. 23, 2015. Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily Archive

The golf team ended its 2015-2016 season last week with the last of its more low-profile spring meets, the Johnson and Wales Spring Invitational. The invitational also marked the last time that senior co-captains Brendan Koh and Jay Wong, who have been stalwarts for the team throughout their careers, stepped on the golf course as Jumbos. Tufts was represented by the two seniors as well as sophomore Aaron Corn, first-year Justin Feldman and sophomore Mike Rogalski.

The Jumbos have finished in the bottom half of the last three invitationals, and this tournament could not reverse that trend. The team finished tied for 13th out of 19 teams competing. Williams took home first place, finishing with a team score of 630, six strokes ahead of second-place Endicott College.

As for Tufts, all five golfers went onto the course looking to close out the season on a strong note. Feldman shot a high 95 on the first day of the tournament. The next day, however, he picked himself up and improved his score by nine strokes to an 86, which was his best single-round score of his short golfing career. Feldman is a recent addition to the team, having just joined this spring. While his two-round score was slightly worse than his score from the last tournament, he can take pride in his improvement from round to round, and in his career-best round to end the season.

Corn shot 167 over the two rounds, finishing one stroke behind Tufts’ two leaders. The sophomore shot a 79 in the second round of action, the lowest single-round score for the Jumbos in this tournament.

“I didn’t play that much better in round two,” Corn said. “I just made a couple putts in the wind. The conditions were a lot better the second day. It was nice to finish the season on a better note than in the first round.”

Rogalski did not participate in the first day of golfing and struggled on the second day, scoring a 104, but his score was not factored into Tufts’ total, as only the first four golfers on each team had their scores factored in.

Koh and Wong both finished with 166 after two rounds, tied for the Jumbos’ best score. It is fitting that these two golfers would come out on top of the leaderboard, as they’ve been leaders for Tufts all season, both on and off the course.

Coach George Pendergast spoke very highly of the seniors and expressed how much they will be missed after four years of golfing with Tufts.

“I’ll miss both of those guys,” Pendergast said. “They weren’t just great players, but wonderful young guys to work with, and really strong team leaders as co-captains. They’ll both do very well in whatever business they choose after graduation.”
Pendergast stressed that he wasn’t always pleased with the results from the spring contests, but he was nonetheless pleased with his team.
“The team stuck together very well under adverse conditions,” he said. “They all supported each other and truly had fun despite unsatisfactory results. The 2016 fall season looks very promising with [junior] Owen Elliott and [sophomore] Taylor Nordan returning and several incoming [first-years] adding depth. Aaron Corn has shown solid improvement and should get even better this summer.”

Corn seemed to share the coach’s sentiments.

“I think everybody’s just focused on playing a lot over the summer,” he said. “It’s tough playing in the NESCAC, because it’s hard to get enough reps in over the winter to get comfortable enough with your swing for the spring. This summer, everyone’s gonna play a lot of golf and come back feeling good about their swings. I think we’re all looking forward to competing for a NESCAC championship next fall.”

The general optimism around the team will be put to the test very soon, as Tufts golf moves onto the summer to prepare for the fall season. The Jumbos are sad to see their seniors go, but they’re also gearing up to take on the challenges of next year.