October 11, 2012

GOLF| Ithaca Natives Help Red Finish Strong, Prepare for Big 5

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Junior Carl Schimenti peered confidently across the water and prepared his tee shot on the final hole — a lakeside par five at Hiawatha Landing.

“The first day I tried to carry [the ball] over the water and I left it short … So I had to drop and I ended up making bogey,” Schimenti said.

The Red golf team was looking to rebound from a trying first day at the Binghamton Invitational this past weekend. Schimenti, who entered the final hole with a 65, was looking to card one final birdie. Familiarized with the course layout, and with a more favorable second-day tee location, Schimenti once again put it all on the line.

“The second day I did the same thing — I tried to carry [the ball] over — but I actually got it over,” he said. “If you’re aggressive enough off the tee, you can have a really short iron or a wedge into a par five.”

Although the Red placed 8th overall at Binghamton, Schimenti highlighted a second-day charge with a three-under 69, following a two-putt birdie on the 18th hole. It was the lowest round of the day for an individual golfer.

“For me it was just taking advantage of the par-5s a bit more,” Schimenti said of his second-day surge. “The first day I tried to get a little too aggressive with a couple of them … Just making a couple more birdies on the par-5s and getting up and down on the par-4s was really the difference between day one and day two for me.”

Cornell posted the second best team score on the final day of the Invitational and looks to carry that momentum into the coming Big 5 Tournament in Philadelphia, Pa. beginning on Saturday.

In Philadelphia, the Red will need a strong a performance from junior Craig Esposito — Cornell’s most consistent performer at Binghamton.

“I think we got more used to the course … everybody got their nerves out during the first day,” Esposito, who carded steady rounds of 74 and 73, suggested. “I think there’s definitely room for improvement. We didn’t score as well as we wanted to the first time but we improved a lot on the second day and posted a really respectable score. It shows what we’re capable of … what level we can compete at. Hopefully we can bring that to Philadelphia.”

Esposito’s strong performance at Binghamton started early. On the second hole of the first day, he walloped an impressive drive down the fairway and skillfully used a six iron to put himself in position for birdie.

“[The weather] held up well for us,” Esposito said. “On Monday, we had an early tee time so we had to deal with the cold weather for an hour or two, but overall the weather was pretty decent.”

Even though the Red will be traveling south to sunny Philadelphia, the impending fall cold threatens to change the dynamic at Philmont Country Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pa.“[The cold] knocks 20 to 25 yards off most drives and you really have to be conscious of club selection because the cold really affects distance,” Schimenti explained. “Usually when it gets colder out in the fall it’s wetter and your ball doesn’t roll far at all either . . . It really does a number on the distance off the tee. But it’s also difficult just to play in cold weather — your hands get stiff; you lose a lot of feel. So it’s really important just to get warm and lose before a round and trying to avoid getting tight and having your hands getting cold and numb during the round because that takes away from your short game and your feel with the putter and the wedges.”

The Big 5 Invitational features Ivy League rivals Penn and Dartmouth. Neither Schimenti nor Esposito have been to Philmont Country Club, but the teammates agree that the tournament will provide a valuable tune-up for Ivy League match play and another valuable opportunity for the Red to showcase its ability.

The 2012 season has been promising thus far for the Red. With a few more standout performances this fall, Cornell can emerge as a strong competitor for Ivy League events in the spring. Both Schimenti and Esposito agree that the team has shown the potential to assemble a winning performance.

“We’re definitely happy,” Schimenti said. “Already this season we have three Top-10 finishes in terms of individuals in tournaments this year. … Individually we can all play really well and be in the Top-10 or Top-20 if we play well. So if we can put it together for a tournament we’ll be looking pretty good.”

“We cooperate a lot,” Esposito added. “We all give each other tips. … Everyone on the team can post a real low number in any given round so it’s just a matter of posting four good numbers on the same day.”

For these two tight-knit Ithaca natives, and for the entire golf team, that day may not be far off.

Original Author: Chris Mills