April 7, 2006

Golfers Swing Into Yale Invitational

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Coming off a good showing at the Towson Invitational, the Cornell men’s golf team travels to New Haven, Conn., this weekend to participate in the Yale Invitational on the Bulldog’s home course.

According to head coach Matt Baughn, the course should be well designed for the talents and strengths of the team.

“It’s very much a ball striker’s course,” Baughn said. “You really have to keep it in off the tee. We’ve been hitting the ball well, though, it’s just been our strong point all season. The course is really a treat for anyone who plays it though because it also does test your short [game], which is why it’s great.”

Designed by renowned golf course architect Charles Blair Macdonald in the late 1920s, the course at Yale represents a throwback to a the early era of American golf course design. It has been ranked as high as the 71st most difficult course in the world, and is recognized by some as the best at the collegiate level.

“It’s got a really classic layout,” said senior co-captain Andy Sliwa. “It’s got all these old school bunkers with steps, so it’s very unique. It kind of plays like target golf out there.”

“It’s great, but up until two or three years ago, it was not in nearly as good condition as it is now. It’s no better than ours,” Baughn added.

After competing at Towson, which boasted the top-ranked field at any tournament in the district, the Red, with its driving hopefully in line, will try to fight its way around two major obstacles this weekend.

“Putting definitely will make or break us, like it always does,” Sliwa said. “I would say our biggest concern has got to be the weather, though. It’s not supposed to be very good conditions this weekend, and the course up there has been open only one week.”

Despite not being able to get much action outdoors this week due to typical Ithaca weather, sophomore Robbie Fritz said that he still got to work on his putting.

“I’m not too worried about putting,” Fritz said. “I got to work on it today [yesterday] and [Wednesday], so I should be good. What’s good is that of all the courses we play on, Yale plays to my strengths and the team’s strengths. It’s not too long, and we don’t hit the ball the longest in the league, so that should help us. I’m also a solid ball striker, so I expect to his a lot of greens.”

The Yale Invitational also provides an opportunity for the Red to scout out some unfamiliar Ivy opponents, namely Harvard and Dartmouth. Brown, and of course Yale, will also compete.

“Dartmouth is really a team in transition right now,” Baughn said. “They have a new coach, and we really haven’t seen them or their competition much. Harvard isn’t even in the same district as us and plays completely different opponents than us, so it will be good to see them.”

“Harvard usually has a solid squad,” Sliwa said. “Darmouth, however, is usually towards the bottom of the pack. Brown can definitely compete, though. Their one man [sophomore Larry Haertel] shot a 68 last week which was pretty impressive.”

Fritz agreed, adding that the team should also finish ahead of host Yale, who finished ahead of the Red last weekend at Towson. It was the first time in two years.

“Brown just shows how much depth the Ivy League has,” Fritz said. “They had a really good showing at Ivies last year and surprised a lot of people. We do expect to beat them, though. I honestly feel that we just have more depth and talent than them.”

Baughn echoed these sentiments, pointing out what a good mental state the team is in right now.

“The guys are more confident than they were last fall,” Baughn said. “This is even the most confident and comfortable they have been this spring. This is the best I’ve felt with this squad this year. I like our chances just as much as anyone. Things are finally coming together for us.”

Archived article by Cory Bennett
Sun Staff Writer