Golf takes fifth at Duke Nelson Invitational

Aaron Corn drives the ball from the third tee at the Newbury Invitational on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily Archives)

On Saturday and Sunday, the Tufts golf team competed in the Duke Nelson Invitational in Middlebury, Vt. The Jumbos played well enough to earn fifth place out of the 22 teams teeing off at Middlebury College’s Ralph Myhre Golf Course.

The Jumbos started out strong on Saturday. Senior co-captain Taylor Nordan and sophomore Brandon Karr tied for fourth on the day, each parring the course with scores of 71. The pair trailed the leaders, Babson first-year Lane Bohman and St. Lawrence first-year Tom Egbers, by just one stroke going into Sunday.  Despite only being seeded fourth on the team heading into the tournament, Karr shot the squad’s joint-best round, showing his large potential for development. Karr seemed to be continuing his form from the Detrick Invitational, where he also led the team in scoring. The rest of the team has high hopes for him.

“Our team is a meritocracy based on any given week’s qualifier,” Nordan said. “Golf is weird. One day you could go out shoot 65 and the next 79. I think he will continue to mature and definitely be an important contributor.”

Not far behind Nordan and Karr was first-year Alex Honigford, who shot a respectable 74 and ended the round tied for 26th in his first competitive match for the Jumbos. Rounding out the scores for the team were senior co-captain Aaron Corn (80) and first-year Harry Theodore (81), who made his second competitive appearance for Tufts. Tufts ended Saturday in fifth place with a total team score of 296, just nine strokes behind tournament leader (and NESCAC rival) Williams.

On Sunday, although several Jumbos showed improvement, the team did not improve upon its overall score from the day before. Karr led the team yet again by shooting a 72, the team’s lowest score and just one over par.

“It’s a great feeling when I’m able to contribute and help out this team in any way,” Karr said. “This team welcomed me last year and has become such an integral part of my college life so it’s really nice to be able to succeed alongside everyone. This summer I was still disappointed from our 5th place finish at the NESCAC qualifier last fall. Along with daily practice, I focused on training in the weight room a few days a week to develop more strength and control and boost my confidence out on the course.”

Theodore (76) and Corn (79) bettered their showings from the day before, while Honigford (75) and Nordan (76) both reported respectable stroke counts. Their combined efforts earned them a team score of 299 for the day, bringing their tournament total to 595, which was not enough to boost them to the top of the rankings but sufficient to retain the Jumbos’ hold over fifth place. Babson claimed first place with a team score of 572, a 23-stroke lead over Tufts. The Beavers also took home individual honors, with Bohman earning a tournament-low score of 140.

With 21 other teams competing in the tournament, the Jumbos were not displeased with their fifth-place finish.

“We played well. [We] left some strokes out there but it happens,” Nordan said. “We’re always looking to improve. We’re going to keep working hard for the next two weeks and play our best.”

However, two NESCAC teams — Trinity (577) and Williams (582) — finished ahead of the Jumbos, and another — Middlebury (601) — finished not far behind. As such, last weekend’s competition gives the Tufts squad an idea of the level of competition it will come up against in the NESCAC tournament at the end of the month, as all three of these teams outscored Tufts at last season’s NESCAC Championship Qualifier, and will be a tough challenge again this year.

“The team is in as good of shape as ever,” Karr said. “We have an exceptional amount of depth, from veteran juniors and seniors to very talented [first-years]. Everyone is focused on our goals and eager to compete for the conference.”

Tufts’ next tournament is the Williams Invitational at Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, Mass. on Sept. 23 and 24.