Tufts finishes strong in championship tune-up

Sophomore Brandon Karr, drives at the fourth tee box in the NESCAC championship qualifying tournament at Indian Hill Golf Club in Newington, Conn. on Sept. 30, 2017. Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts golf team competed in its penultimate tournament of the season over the weekend. The Jumbos traveled to Cranston, R.I. to compete in the Wildcat Spring Invitational, where they finished in sixth place out of 19 competing teams. Husson University won the tournament, coming in with a total of 602 strokes (34-over-par), while Tufts finished with 637. Tufts edged out hosts Johnson and Wales by one shot in a tightly contested finish.

Junior Justin Feldman led the Jumbos at Cranston Country Club, finishing with a two-day total of 15-over-par to place him in a tie for 14th place. Feldman got off to a shaky start with a 10-over 81 on Saturday before turning it around on the second day with a 5-over 76. Feldman was not alone, as many of the Jumbos performed better on Sunday. The Longmeadow, Mass. native was happy with his performance and glad that he was able to contribute to Tufts’ sixth-place finish but wished that both he and the team had started stronger.

“I was very pleased with my performance and the contributions I made to the overall team performance this past weekend,” Feldman said. “Frankly, the first day went rather poorly for myself and my teammates, but the rebound we had on Sunday was immense and signifies the strength of this team as a whole. Whether it is from one shot to the next [or] one hole to the next or one round to the next, a good golfer is always able to put bad shots behind them and put their best efforts into the next one. Our team used this mentality going from Saturday into Sunday this past weekend.”

First-year Alex Honigford also turned in a strong showing for the Jumbos, finishing in a tie for 32nd place after shooting an 18-over-par 160. Honigford has shown his potential throughout the season and continues to perform well toward the end of the year, most notably finishing tied for first at the Blazer Falls Invite in October.

Reflecting on the year as a whole, the Indianapolis native is pleased that he has been able to contribute to the team as a first-year but is also looking to grow moving forward.

“It’s been great to be a part of the continued transformation of Tufts golf,” Honigford said. “Personally, it’s been a very up-and-down year for me, and I always like to set my sights on the highest goals possible, but I’m very happy I could play a part in contributing to the team this year as one of a number of strong [first-years] on the team. We’ve also had outstanding leadership from the upperclassmen to set the tone for this year, and we are in a great position to build off that mentality to compete at a very high level in the future.”

Sophomore Brandon Karr (19-over 162), first-year Harry Theodore (163) and senior Nik Nugnes (175) rounded out the scoring for Tufts at the Wildcat Spring Invitational.

This weekend, the team heads to Indian Hill Country Club in Newington, Conn. for its final tournament of the 2018 spring campaign. In what will be its biggest tournament of the season, Tufts will compete in the NESCAC Championship, hosted by Trinity. The Jumbos’ appearance at the conference tournament will be their first since the introduction of a qualifying event in 2007. Feldman is excited for the Championship and is focused on playing as well as he can.

“Ever since the team qualified for the championship back in the fall, we established that we did not want to leave anything up to question this spring,” Feldman said. “We don’t want to complete this tournament with any ‘what ifs’ hanging over our heads. Our goal is, and always has been, to put ourselves in the best position to perform our very best in this tournament.”

Honigford expressed a similar sentiment, believing that if the team performs at its best, a victory is possible.

“We have a strong team that’s ready to give it our all for the NESCAC Championship,” Honigford said. “The championship has always been the ultimate focus of the season, and we have put ourselves in position to compete at the highest level possible. It will be a battle, but we have the skill and motivation to win if we put forth a strong effort.”