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With stellar performances from senior captain Mike Graboyes, classmate Christopher Troy, as well as sophomore Jack Casler, the Cornell golf team took second place in Colgate’s Alex Lagowitz Memorial Invitational for the third straight year.
While a top finish, the team was drastically toppled during the second day of play. The Red held a 36-hole lead after the end of the first day and Casler, who was competing as an individual, led the medalist hunt by a stroke.
But North Dakota State clawed its way back to win the invitational by just two shots. Cornell finished with a team score of 866.
“We were really pumped going into the final round, and actually played really well, but just got outplayed enough to lose by two shots,” said Graboyes, the team captain who has found plenty of success on the individual level. “It was awesome to play for something more than an individual title.”
On Saturday, the Red got off to a very strong start. Casler led the field by shooting a 70 in each of the first two rounds, good for 2-under-par. Graboyes was not far behind, tied for third after shooting a 74 and 71 in 36 holes of gold. Sophomore Mike May finished the day tied for eighth place with an overall score of 147, while Troy finished tied for fourteenth with a 148.
Despite some struggles in the first round Saturday, Graboyes was not surprised by these strong results due in part to what he sees as a very productive offseason.
“Our tryouts went really well, so coming in we were definitely feeling optimistic,” Graboyes said. “The first round probably had to do with rust. Some of the guys hadn’t played competitive rounds in a few months, so it’s always hard to come out and perform as well as you want to right away. And then the second round everyone settled down and played really well, and it shows what kind of potential this team has moving forward.”
In the final round on Sunday, when North Dakota State made its run, Graboyes stayed on par to finish with a three-round score of 217, good for second overall to trail only Penn’s Josh Goldenberg by two strokes. The sophomore Casler hit some setbacks to drop back to fifth overall with a score of 219, while Troy and May finished tied for 10th and in 21st, respectively. Overall, Cornell finished a close second to North Dakota State, losing by a score of 884 (+20) to 886 (+22).
While the tournament might not have ended as hoped, Graboyes is happy that some of the younger golfers like Casler, May and freshman Charlie Dubiel got good tournament experience under their belts.
“Any tournament you’re in contention is a great experience,” Graboyes said. “Even Jack [Casler] … is going to learn a ton just by trying to play with the lead going into the last round.
“The good thing about this past weekend is that we didn’t lose the tournament,” he added. “We had the lead going into the final round, played pretty solid and another team just happened to edge us by a few shots. The whole round we played with pressure on us as the leaders and performing as well as we did … will definitely help us moving forward.”
This coming weekend, the team hosts the annual Cornell Invitational at Robert Trent Jones Golf Course in Ithaca. The Red won the tournament last year, finishing with a three-round score of 879 (+27) to beat second place Colgate by four shots.