Cornell golf head coach Matt Baughan and the golf squad are looking for a fresh start this spring after a disappointing 11th place finish last October at the Big Five Invitational, its final tournament of the fall season.
First up for the Red is the George Washington Invitational, where the Red will make its first appearance in the tournament’s nine-year history. Hosted at the par-72, 6,761-yard Bear Trap Dunes Golf Club in Bethany Beach, Del., the tournament will bring together several of the top teams in the Mid-Atlantic and New England regions who are battling for a limited number of NCAA tournament at-large bids. The Mid-Atlantic Region, of which Cornell University is a member, receives four NCAA bids and the New England Region receives three bids.
The Red will be counting on its core of juniors Robbie Fritz, Bret Perry, Chad Bernstein, Austin Lord and freshman Robert Cronheim to get the season started on the right note, as it begins another run towards the Ivy League championship.
Last season, Baughan’s squad finished eighth in the year-end Ivy tournament. This season, Baughan is confident that the maturity and growth that comes with an extra year of experience will push the core of the team up another level.
“Last season our guys really battled, but we were a little short on the talent side,” he said. “But that eighth place finish definitely served as motivation, and I know our guys put in a lot of work over the past eight months or so, so we’re really excited about this upcoming season.”
One of the instrumental golfers in the team’s attempt to bounce back from last season will be Perry — who placed 20th (+19) at last year’s Ivy League championships — was the best finisher of any member of the Red squad. This past fall, Perry had a successful campaign, with his best performance coming at the Cornell Invitational where he finished second out of 78 golfers to help the Red to a third-place finish.
The Red will also be relying on Fritz — who placed 36th at last year’s championships and is the only other returning golfer from the tournament — to continue his steady improvement. Fritz is coming off a solid performance at the Big Five Invitational, where he finished 27th out of 75 total competitors and put up a better score than any other member of the Red. Fritz also had an impressive third-place finish at the St. Bonaventure Leo Keenan Invitational. The team will need both Perry and he to continue playing at a high level if they expect to make any significant strides this spring.
Other key golfers will be Bernstein, whose highlight performance of the fall season was a 17th place tie and two-day total of 151 to lead the Red at the Colgate Invitational, and Lord, who finished tied with Bernstein for 58th place with a two-day total of 162 at the Cornell Invitational. Cronheim finished two shots back at the same tournament.