On Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, the Tufts golf team finished third out of 10 teams at the NESCAC Fall Qualifier at Indian Hill Country Club. Their strong play earned them a spot at the NESCAC Championship in the spring, marking the first time in history that the Jumbos have qualified. The team most recently competed at the Blazer’s Fall Invite on Sunday where it finished 10th out of 16 after two days of play.
First-year Alex Honigford took home the trophy for the Jumbos, tying for first place with 146 points. Despite his win, the team was only able to finish in 10th place as the other members of the Tufts team didn’t fare as well. Sophomore Ethan Sorkin came 37th, the second highest finish for the Jumbos, and the other finishing positions were 44th, 56th and 66th.
The Jumbos began the qualifier, however, with strong all-around performances on Sept. 30. Junior Justin Feldman and sophomore Brandon Karr both tied for eighth place after day one by shooting 77. Karr continued to show the potential he flashed at the Duke Nelson Invitational, where he also scored the joint-best round for the team.
Following Feldman and Karr was senior co-captain Aaron Corn, who tied for 13th place with a 78. Four strokes behind was first-year Harry Theodore, who tied for 23rd place with an 82 in his fourth-ever tournament appearance. Closing out the scorecard for the Jumbos was senior co-captain Tayler Nordan, who shot an 85.
In total, Tufts ended the first day with a score of 314, which put them in third place behind the Trinity Bantams (299) and the Williams Ephs (304).
“Obviously, I was not happy with my score [on] day one,” Nordan said. “That said, we had the luxury of dropping scores, and we handled the pressure well overall. We played our game and did not let anything get to us. This allowed us to set ourselves up well on the first day. We were right where we wanted to be.”
The next day, the Jumbos had to maintain their position to qualify, and they did just that. Though they did not improve their overall position, individual players improved their scores on Sunday and allowed the Jumbos to secure a spot in the spring championships.
Corn finished 12th overall, scoring a 75 for the day and finishing with a total score of 153. Nordan improved by 14 strokes from the first day to the second, parring the course with a 71 to assemble a total score of 156. Feldman scored a 79 on Sunday and also ended the tournament with 156. Nordan, Feldman and two other players shared 14th place.
“Though the score doesn’t necessarily reflect it, I was extremely pleased with the way the team and I personally played. It’s not easy playing golf with 20 miles-per-hour gusts of wind,” Feldman said. “But the team had a motto of mental toughness, to play the game and focus on each shot regardless of anything else that may have happened. This is what, I think, allowed us to place the way we did.”
Though Karr registered a less impressive Sunday score by shooting an 83, he and Theodore both ended the tournament with 160, tying for 24th and contributing to maintaining the team’s position.
In total, Tufts finished Sunday with 303 and the tournament with 617, staying in third place behind Trinity in first (582) and Williams in second (602) and ahead of the Amherst in fourth (621). These four teams will compete in the NESCAC Championships in the spring.
“I think [the victory] is indicative of the overall trajectory of the team over the past several years. When Aaron [Corn] and I started playing, it was just a bunch of guys who liked to play golf,” Nordan said. “Now it’s a group of competitive guys who keep the others motivated. We have a squad with a lot of depth, and it pushes us all to do our best. We all now have something huge to look forward to in the spring and that is going to make each and every one of us work extremely hard in the off season and in the spring.”
The victory at the qualifier came a week after the Williams Invitational on Sept. 23 and 24, in which the Jumbos came in ninth out of 19 teams. Tufts finished with a score of 622, behind NESCAC rivals Trinity (584), Williams (589), Middlebury (611) and Amherst (620). Karr finished first for the team, tying for 25th place in the tournament. Nordan, Theodore and Corn tied for 33rd place, followed by Honigford in 48th place.
Tufts’ next tournament is the New England Championships at Captain’s Course in Brewster, Mass. on Oct. 22.