A hot start for Cornell in the 12-team Princeton Invitational fizzled on day two, but senior Mike Graboyes shined individually for the Red at Springdale Golf Club this weekend.
The two-day, 36-hole tournament was highlighted by an individual win by Graboyes and a team score of 576, good enough for a tie with Princeton for fourth place.
The Red showed promise after the first day, posting a tournament-best score of 283, led by Graboyes’ 66, good for 5-under par and the best round of the entire tournament.
Starting on hole 10, Graboyes went 5-under on the back nine with birdies on holes 10,12,13,15 and 18.
“The back nine is really gettable at Springdale,” Graboyes said. “I hit two really good shots the first day to an inch, but besides that I was taking advantage of the short holes — playing aggressive when I saw an opportunity and laying back if I determined it wasn’t a smart play.”
Graboyes then went on shoot an even 35 on the front and he and the Red sat comfortably in first place.
The same couldn’t be said for day two, as the Red shot a 293, a full 10 strokes worse than day one.
“It’s hard to tell from the scoreboard, but conditions were way tougher the second round,” Graboyes said. “That, combined with holding the lead overnight, made the second day a grind.”
With the team’s struggles on the second 18, the Red fell a full three positions to a tie for fourth, but Graboyes was able to keep focus and hold onto his lead with a 1-under 70 on day two.
“Historically this course has low numbers out there,” he said. “So despite the cold conditions, I knew I couldn’t just coast in the last 27 holes. I had the same exact strategy the entire weekend but that first stretch, everything seemed to fall into place and gave me a ton of confidence the rest of the way.”
Able to fend off valiant push by Yale’s James Nicholas, who posted his own 66 on the second day, Graboyes knew he needed a birdie on the 18th to seal the victory.
“On 18, I was surprised to see I was tied and needed a birdie,” he said. “So instead of laying up, I hit a driver that from 305 [yards] landed three feet from the pin and rolled out to 60 feet, which I was able to two-putt for the win.”
Graboyes felt it was his success off the tee that led him to come out on top.
“[The best part of my game was] definitely my driving,” he said. “Generally, when I hit well off the tee it loosens up the rest of my game and that’s exactly what happened this weekend. I was never in trouble or scrambling because of how well I was driving it on a short course.”
On a short course that played only 6,424 yards, Graboyes was able to simply out-drive the competition, reaching the par-4 sixth and 18th greens off the tee on the final day.
“Hole 6 was about 290 uphill and downwind and I crushed a driver perfectly and it went to 15 feet for eagle,” he said.
Graboyes will attempt to keep his momentum going as the team prepares for the Yale Invitational April 14 and 15.