With an eighth place finish at this past weekend’s Princeton Invitational, the Cornell golf team continues to shake off its winter rust in preparation for the upcoming Ivy League Championships.
“It’s tough playing in Ithaca because we don’t get to hit outside until April,” said senior co-captain Max Wilkinson. “Our recent [Towson Spring Invitational] and this Princeton tournament are really the leaping pads for the Ivy League Championships.”
Looking to regain some of its fall season composure, the Red entered the weekend tournament with immediate roadblocks; the Princeton Invitational featured difficult playing conditions. However, the team was able to adapt, largely in part due to past experiences with challenging weather.
“It was blowing 50 miles an hour the whole day and it was also 40 degree weather, which is never a good combination,” said senior co-captain Luke Graboyes. “Luckily, it was our fifth game in a row where we’ve played with a lot of wind, and we were able to control the ball well.”
Junior Christopher Troy, in particular, seemed undeterred by the tough golfing conditions. For the tournament, Troy turned an impressive two-over par score of 215 over three rounds, including two-under 69 in the first round and one-under 70 in the second round. The performance helped propel Troy to a career-best fifth-place finish at the tournament.
“Chris played two of his best rounds ever which is phenomenal,” Graboyes said. “He was controlling the ball in that weather and really just took advantage of it.”
Graboyes also added a noteworthy performance over the weekend, placing 11th with a four-over par score of 217, including a team-best one-under 70 in the final round.
Notably, the invitational also played host to Wilkinson’s final tournament of his college career. While Wilkinson struggled throughout the first two rounds, he put up a final round score of two-over 73 to end his college career on a high note.
“It was a course I’ve never played before, so I made some high numbers in the first two rounds, but I was happy about my 73 on the final round,” Wilkinson said. “Overall, it wasn’t my best, but that last round was a great way to cap off my college career.”
Wilkinson ends his time with the Red with quite an unorthodox career. Initially a walk-on to the team, Wilkinson competed with recruited golfers for a final roster spot, before eventually becoming a captain in his senior year.
“[Walking on] was a grueling process, but my time here has been great and the program has come very far since then,” Wilkinson said. “We have some great young talent and it makes me optimistic about the future of the program.”
While the Red faced its share of struggles at Princeton, the tournament provided great preparation for the upcoming Yale Spring Invitational this Saturday.
“Princeton was definitely great preparation for Yale,” Graboyes said. “The courses are similar in terms of greens and grasses [and] in terms of length, [both are] on the short side as well.”
In addition to the mental preparation provided by the Princeton course, memorable past experiences with the Yale course will undoubtedly prove to be useful.
“The one consistent thing we’ve experienced at Princeton is very bad weather,” Graboyes said “We’ve played there during a nor’easter and a tropical storm, so we’ve seen the course during some terrible playing conditions.”
“This weekend looks like it won’t be too bad, so we [will] be able to gain some confidence and shoot some low scores before heading into the Ivies,” he added.