Stellar 2nd day propels golf to 2nd-place finish in NESCAC qualifier

Brandon Karr, a senior, swings at the ball on the seventh fairway in the NESCAC championship qualifying tournament at Indian Hill Golf Club in Newington, Conn., on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. Evan Sayles / The Tufts Daily Archives

On Sunday, Sept. 29, the Tufts golf team capped a brilliant weekend of play with a second-place finish in the NESCAC qualifier. Tufts came within two strokes shy of the high mark set by Williams, finishing with a total score for the weekend of 588. With a top-four finish in the qualifiers this fall, Tufts punched its ticket to its third consecutive NESCAC championship.

The final line for Tufts was its best mark ever for a NESCAC qualifier. The weekend was highlighted by an outstanding round on the second day, where Tufts paced the field with a total score of 292. Playing with a home course advantage, the Jumbos rolled through the competition.

The high mark on day two propelled the Jumbos from third to second place, leapfrogging an Amherst squad that struggled to get anything going Sunday. Although Williams — who finished with the two top golfers in the field — narrowly edged out Tufts, the day was a stellar showing from every corner of the Jumbos’ roster.

Coach George Pendergast had nothing but praise for the high-flying squad. 

“I thought our guys played super, super well,” Pendergast said. “It was probably one of the more impressive efforts from a Tufts team ever.”

In terms of individual finishes, Tufts had four players finish within the top 10. Leading the way was junior Henry Hughes, who shot an astronomical 70 on the second day to secure fourth-place overall in the tournament. Hughes’ performance was the best score of the day and was a big part of the jump Tufts made on the second day. Junior Harry Theodore nabbed a seventh-place finish with a 72 on day two, while sophomores Travis Clauson and Mac Bredahl tied with two others at eighth. No individual on the team finished below 12th on the day, with senior Brandon Karr coming in just one stroke behind Clauson and Bredahl.

The day two surge that paced the field was the big story of the weekend, as it allowed Tufts to secure a historically great finish.

“We knew we had a lot more in us for day two. Amherst is a good team, but we knew we should beat them at our home course,” Clauson said. “At that point, qualifying was mostly sealed up, and so we played with nothing to lose. That was the key to a strong Sunday.”

The home course advantage was exciting for many members of the team, and the familiarity with many of the specific shots and strategies for each hole paid big dividends.

“We had three eagles over the course of two days,” Pendergast said.

Despite their success, the Jumbos are still hungry for more.

“It was bittersweet seeing how close we were to beating Williams,” Clauson said. “Beating Williams in the qualifier would have been one of the greatest moments in the team’s history.”

Looking ahead, the Jumbos won’t play in the NESCAC championship until April, where the No. 1-seeded Williams will host, and the Jumbos will look to upset them from the No. 2 seed. The team’s inspiring play and close finish behind Williams lends a lot of optimism to a fantastic showing in the NESCAC championship. 

Before then, however, the Jumbos will suit up one more time this fall season for the NEIGA Championship at the Captain’s Golf Course in Brewster, Mass. The weather may not be as kind as it was during this recent slate of September matches, but the team will look to cap an excellent fall season on a high note, while potentially getting some of the younger players some tournament action. 

The NEIGA Championship will kick off in a couple of weeks on Oct. 20 and 21.


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