After carding the lowest team total during Saturday’s second round, Cornell’s golf team seemed poised to strike, sitting in fifth place after 36 holes of golf – merely four strokes out of third. Yesterday, though, the team posted what players called a disappointing 317, sliding them back to an eighth-place finish.
The Red earned a tournament total of 917, three stokes behind seventh place finisher Robert Morris University and four strokes out of sixth. The golf team also placed behind Bucknell and St. Bonaventure, teams Cornell faces nearly every tournament, but has not been able to conquer yet this year. The Red did finish ahead of 10th place Lehigh, who finished ahead of them at both the Colgate and Bucknell Invitationals this year.
The three round Cornell Invitational was the Red’s one chance to use home course advantage during the fall season. After having four of five golfers score in the 70s in the first two rounds, sophomore Robbie Fritz was the only Cornellian to post below 81 yesterday, finishing with that day’s low, a 2-under 70.
“I finished third last year at the Cornell Invitational, and my goal this year was just to beat that finish and that score, which I did,” said Fritz, who finished at an even par 216, good for second overall.
His score was four strokes behind St. Joseph’s Billy Stewart, who posted a course record 9-under 63 on Saturday, helping his team run away with the title, finishing 22 strokes ahead of Niagara.
“I was unfamiliar with St. Joe’s team,” Fritz said. “But all I know is that any decent golfer can have a good day and shoot in the high 60s, but a 63, that’s unbelievable.”
As for himself, Fritz felt the key to his success lay in his ability to not expect perfection in every shot.
“All week, I felt I wasn’t swinging well,” Fritz said. “So, I went into the tournament telling myself just to deal with the bad shots, and not get distressed and instead simply focus on making the next shot and putting well, which I thought I was able to do.”
As a team, though, the Red was not able to stay focused.
“The biggest thing we need to look at is our mental approach,” head coach Matt Baughan said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes out there. Bogeys are acceptable, but double and triple bogeys are simply mental mistakes.”
“Tell me about it,” senior captain Andy Sliwa said after being asked if he struggled with his concentration on the course. “Me and the other golfers I live with spent all week looking through sports psychology books trying to figure out how to bring up our confidence. I know I’ve been tentative with my swing for all four years of college.”
Cornell was not the only team to struggle yesterday. Scores were noticeably up for every team, with no team coming in under 300.
In Saturday’s two rounds, five and four teams, respectively, finished under 300. After a night of intermittent rain though, that is to be expected, according to Fritz.
“The course definitely played tougher [yesterday],” Fritz said. “When the rough is wet, it is much harder to advance the ball, and the pins were in a very difficult position. What was really tough, though, was that the greens were really fast because of the rain, causing you to three putt a lot.”
Besides Fritz, no other Cornell golfer placed in the top-35 with sophomore Bret Perry and Sliwa carding a three round total of 234 each, good for 36th. Junior Greg Peterson posted a final round 84 to finish 43rd.
“I felt like I was playing decent, and then all of a sudden I triple bogey the 11th hole and I just fell apart,” Sliwa said.
“I was shanking every third drive, some out of bounds. I’ve gained a lot of power over the last few years as I’ve grown, but I’ve also lost accuracy, which makes me hesitant off the tee. Myself, as well as the team, just needs to be consistent.”
Archived article by Cory Bennett