Respect. Years ago, Aretha Franklin demanded it, and this coming weekend, the golf team will set out to earn it when it competes in the Towson Invitational.
Spanning Saturday and Sunday, the tournament will be held on Towson course in Towson, Md. For the Red, it will be its first look at Ivy foes – including last year’s Ancient Eight champion Princeton, as well as Columbia, and Yale.
“Since we don’t get invited to the same tournaments as a lot of the Ivy League schools, it is tough to judge our competition in the Ivies,” said head coach Matt Baughan. “We already know, though, that Princeton is the most difficult team, but I also noticed that Columbia is ranked quite high regionally, which means that their incoming freshman must be playing well. It will be nice to see where these teams stand before we head into the Ivy championship.”
Filling out what Baughan calls the deepest field the team will play this spring are perennial powerhouses Towson, William and Mary, and Villanova, who are all ranked in the top-10 regionally, along with James Madison, who has slipped some recently.
The Red sneaked up on several opponents at Towson last year, finishing 10th in the challenging 19-team field. Cornell expects similar results, especially with the infusion of senior co-captain Andrew Turker into the lineup. He bolsters the 1-2 punch of sophomores Bret Perry and Robbie Fritz.
“Andrew has just had a very good spring,” Baughan said. “Last fall, even he would say that he played awful. But I’ve been looking at him all along, because I know he has as much talent as anyone in this league, it was just a matter of getting his consistency up, and with the way he’s been shooting this spring, he should really help us this weekend.
As for Fritz and Perry, last week in Orlando they put a lot of work into getting their field games consistent – Fritz with his short pitch shots and Perry with his bunker game. Even though we’ll be switching from Bermuda grass to some semi-dormant, dead grass, everyone else is in the same situation as us.”
Consistency seems to be the word being repeated like a broken record this year for the Red, and this weekend, the consistency will need to come from the fourth and fifth golfers in the lineup.
“I know everyone says you only need to have four scores,” Baughan said, referring to the tournament rule of dropping the lowest score. “But that fifth guy really helps everyone else out. It allows the top-3 guys to be a lot more comfortable. They don’t have to go out feeling the pressured to always shoot low because they have other guys there to pick them up.”
Another mantra this season has been that the team, golfer for golfer, has enough raw talent to compete with anyone.
“I see teams like Villanova in the top-10 in the district, and we have competed equally with them before, so I know we can play with anyone in the district,” Baughan said. “As long as we just don’t make mental mistakes, those doubles and triples, and play to our ability, we can compete against anyone. A lot of people still don’t have any expectations of us, and it’s hard to get that respect in the rankings unless you play in good tournaments, and we don’t get invited to those tournaments yet. Invitations are just a matter of playing well in tournaments like Towson, though, and with this core group of young guys we are really paving the way for the future. Meanwhile, we’re still in the great position of surprising a lot of people now.”