Tufts golfers finish seventh in spring opener

Sophomore Brandon Karr putts toward the 16th hole of the NESCAC Qualifier at Indian Hill Golf Club in Newington, Conn. on Sept. 30, 2017. Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts golf team competed in its first tournament of the spring season on Friday and Saturday at the Westport Hampton Inn Invitational in North Dartmouth, Mass. The Jumbos finished seventh out of the 18 teams that took on the course at Allendale Country Club, receiving several particularly strong showings. NESCAC rival Trinity won the tournament with a total score of 606, while Tufts finished with a score of 632.

The squad had a strong start to the tournament, ending the first day of competition in fifth place thanks to the impressive play of sophomore Brandon Karr. Karr shot a 1-over-par 73 on Friday to finish the day in a tie for third place. The West Bloomfield, Mich. native ultimately ended up fifth overall after shooting a 78 on the second day of competition. After showing great form in the fall, Karr looks ready to lead the Jumbos this season. While he was glad to have helped the team over the weekend, Karr was nonetheless disappointed that he could not finish the tournament as well as he started it.

“I was really pleased that I could help out the team and that I put myself in a position to win the tournament,” Karr said. “I made some critical errors down the stretch and wasn’t able to finish it off which was disappointing, But overall, it was a solid first event for me to build on.”

The other four Jumbos who competed in the tournament were senior co-captain Aaron Corn, first-year Alex Honigford and juniors Justin Feldman and Brian Creonte. Feldman finished second for the Jumbos, posting a 13-over 157. The Longmeadow, Mass. native led the entire field in par-3 scoring over the weekend, averaging 2.88 shots per hole. Although Feldman was pleased with his inaugural spring performance, he is looking for more improvement before the NESCAC Championship at the end of the month.

“It felt really nice to get some tournament reps in before the NESCAC Championship,” Feldman said. “While each tournament is important in itself, the NESCAC Championship is the outright culmination of the team’s entire year. This weekend helped me determine where I need to focus my personal efforts and understand where the team, as a whole, needs to focus its efforts to best prepare ourselves for the championship in two weeks.”

Creonte, Corn and Honigford posted scores of 163, 166 and 170, respectively. With the exception of Honigford, who improved his Friday score of 86 by two points on Saturday, all of the Jumbos fared worse on the second day of play. The team was certainly disappointed with the final result, but could still reflect on the lessons learned from its first spring tournament.

“I think it was a really good test for the team to see how our games would hold up under tournament conditions,” Karr said. “We got to knock off the rust a little bit and see what we need to work on moving forward. Overall there was a sense of disappointment, especially with the execution on the second day, but everyone had positive takeaways to learn from. I’m confident we’ll be able to make the adjustments in practice this week and have our games at our best this weekend and the next.”

As Feldman alluded to, the Westport Hampton Inn Invitational — like most of the spring season — simply amounts to preparation for the Jumbos’ ultimate test: the NESCAC Championship.

“With just two tournaments left, I think the team is in as good of a position as ever to give its best performance,” Feldman said. “Golf is a very difficult sport to maintain a consistent level of play. It has its ups and downs. With this in mind, I believe that my teammates’ games are trending upwards to peak at the NESCAC Championship — when we need to play our best golf.”

Tufts will travel to Cranston, R.I. for the Wildcat Spring Invitational this weekend in what will be its penultimate tournament of the brief spring campaign. The following weekend, the Jumbos will close their season with a return to the NESCAC Championship, in which they have not participated since 2006 — before the current qualifying format was instated.