March 17, 2004

Back on Par

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It’s been more than two years since the men’s golf team last won a tournament. The team has finished last at the past six Ivy League championships, and it placed ninth of 16 teams at last year’s ECAC tournament. In fact, the men’s team has struggled for the better part of three years to sustain consistently good play and secure higher tournament finishes. All that might change this spring.

Earlier this fall, the team delivered some the best performances in the history of Cornell links, and the players think they have a good chance at continuing the streak during the spring.

“Last fall, we had the best winning percentage in the history of the program. We were up around .690,” junior Justin Howe said. “We all came into the season really enthusiastic, and when we started winning, it just got better. We’re really excited to see what turns out this spring.”

Those wins included an 11th place finish at the 15th annual Keenan Invitational and a fifth-place result at the Cornell invite on the Robert Trent Jones course.

Leading the Red to the auspicious start were junior captain Kevin Scelfo and senior Chris Rogalski. At the Keenan Invitational, the duo recorded a pair of one-over-par 73s, good for a tie at fifth place individually, and crucial for the team’s overall standing.

“Kevin has really been playing well this year,” Howe said. “But he’s usually our best player.”

Adding to the mix are several other members of the team who have proven that they can hack it by shooting some of the lowest rounds in Cornell history.

“One of our freshman in particular, Greg Peterson, has been playing well this season. But, we also had eight people shoot in the low to mid 70s during the fall. That’s never happened before,” Howe added.

Freshman Loren Berkley, junior Eric Foote, and sophomores Andy Sliwa, Andrew Turker, and Mike Weiss will also look to contribute low rounds this spring as the team’s season continues.

“We’re a lot deeper going into this spring than we have been in the past,” Howe continued. “We already set the single best round in Cornell history this fall. We shot 294 as a team. We also shot 300 or below three times. Prior to last year, no Cornell team had done it once.”

This spring’s lineup of tournaments will challenge the team to reproduce those results, but the golfers think they can continue to improve. The trouble is, they will not have many opportunities to do so. The team’s spring schedule has only two tournaments — LeMoyne and Lafayette — before the Red play in the Ivy League championships in April.

Yale, which has won two Ivy titles in a row, will look to three-peat this year, while the other league teams will jockey for spots in the middle of the pack. As for the Red, the team has only one way to go: up.

“I can’t wait to see what’s in store,” Howe concluded.

Archived article by Everett Hullverson