Tufts kicks off spring season with a six-stroke win

Jay Wong hits the ball from the eighth fairway at the Newbury Invitational on Sept. 23, 2015. Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily

Tufts traveled to Allendale Country Club in North Dartmouth, Mass. to compete in the Hampton Inn Invite over the weekend. The golfers played well at the tournament and shot consistent scores throughout both rounds to win their first tournament of the spring season. The win was the first No. 1 finish of the 2016–2017 season for the Jumbos.

On Friday, the first day of the tournament, the Jumbos got off to a great start. All five participating Jumbos ended the day within the top 33 out of the total 91 players at the invitational. Tufts earned a team total of 310 points for the opening round, tying with Babson for first place. Senior tri-captain Owen Elliott ended the first day tied for first with Babson first-year David Choi. Both golfers shot a 75 for the round. Sophomore Justin Feldman finished close behind Elliott, ending the round tied for fifth with a score of 77, while juniors Aaron Corn and Taylor Nordan carded a 79 for the day and ended the round tied for 11th. First-year Ethan Sorkin shot an 82 to finish the first day tied for 33rd.

Corn said the win would not have been possible without first-years, like Sorkin, stepping up and filling greater roles on the team.

“The future of our team is bright,” Corn told the Daily in an email. “We have had some nice contributions from our first-years, and they are all working really hard to make sure they continue to contribute moving forward.”

On Saturday, the Jumbos continued their good form and won the tournament, coming in first out of 17 teams. Elliott again shot a 75, earning a 75-75-150 ledger for the tournament and coming in first-place out of all the golfers competing at the tournament. Elliott finished five strokes lower than Babson sophomore Riley Whitham, who shot a 155 and placed second in the tournament. Elliott’s 75-stroke round was also tied for the second lowest single round of the tournament, only beaten out by Babson first-year Chris Bornhorst’s second round score of 74.

Corn improved upon his first-round score by two strokes, shooting a 77 and ending the tournament tied for third with a 79-77-156 ledger. Nordan finished not far behind, tied for seventh with a second-round score of 78 and an overall score of 157.

Sorkin improved on his first-round score by two strokes, shooting an 80 for an overall score of 162. Feldman dropped from his first-round score of 77 and shot a second-round score of 88, but it was still enough for him to finish tied for 33rd. The Jumbos earned a total team mark of 620, six strokes ahead of second-place Babson and 20 strokes ahead of both Amherst College and Husson University, who tied for third.

The win did not come easy for the Jumbos, as the weather was not ideal during the tournament.

“This weekend, the team showed amazing patience, playing through extreme winds and wet conditions, and never quit,” Associate Head Coach Brian Golden told the Daily in an email. “All five players contributed towards the victory, over the two rounds. Walking with players, both days, I kept telling them to remain patient, play within themselves and not get discouraged over missed shots. If the team can battle through those elements, that experience will make any future round that much easier.”

The first-place finish at the Hampton Inn Invite is already an improvement over the team’s finishes throughout the fall season, and the Jumbos will be looking to continue that success.

“Our team believes it’s more important to be process oriented than results oriented,” Corn told the Daily in an email. “Even though our goal is to win every tournament we tee it up in, we focus more on making sure we are practicing, preparing and focusing the right way. If we do those things, we believe the desired results will come.”

Golden is looking forward to what the spring season has in store for the Jumbos, as well as the additional practice time that comes with the improved weather.

“Coach Pendergast and I have seen improvement, in every event, since the past fall season,” Golden said. “What impresses us the most is the team chemistry, from top to bottom.”

Next up, the Jumbos will travel to Newport, RI to compete in the Bentley College Invitational on April 18.