It was another top-five team finish for Cornell golf this weekend as a team score of 591 (+31) was good enough for fourth place at the Yale Invitational. The one-day, 36-hole tournament was highlighted by top-15 individual performances by seniors Chris Troy and Mike Graboyes as well junior Tianyi Cen who shot 146 (+6), 147 (+7) and 147 (+7), respectively.
Cold and windy conditions provided for a demanding and strenuous 36 holes, but it was the team’s veteran leadership that kept the Red in contention.
“Conditions were tough out there especially with the wind,” said Troy. “On some of the holes it was tough to get a proper yardage with the wind, and on a course like Yale’s you are punished [if you] miss clubbing.”
Yet, even with the strong winds, Troy was able to put together rounds of 72 and 74 and finish 14th at The Course at Yale. Despite nine bogeys and two doubles through his 36 holes, Troy was able to capitalize on the 6810 yard course with seven birdies including on both par-5s in his second round.
“Some holes I thought the wind would effect the ball differently and made some big numbers because of it, but [I] was able to take advantage when I made the right call,” Troy said.
The wind wasn’t the only challenge on the day, as the pin placement provided an added challenge — the need for constant focus.
“The hardest part of the course was probably the pin positions,” Troy said. “Some were on edges of slopes where you could get really punished if you weren’t focused on the speed of your putts.”
As for Graboyes, it was a tail of two 18s. After an even-par 70 in his first round, the senior found himself in a tie for fourth individually. Unable to keep the success going, he shot a second round 77 he fell to a tie for 15th.
“The weather changed from morning to afternoon,” Graboyes said. “It got really windy and it seems many of our bad rounds come when the wind picks up. 36 hole days are long and speaking for myself and possibly others, I lost mental focus for a few holes on my last 9.”
The grueling nature of 36 holes in one day, especially with demanding pin placement, seemed to bring out the mental fatigue in everyone. Although almost every team was noticeably worse on the second 18, the Red finished 17 strokes worse in round two. This mental toughness is something the Red will focus on improving for next week’s Ivy League tournament.
“I also think a bunch of us [were] tired out mentally and made some stupid mistakes,” Troy said. “This is something we will definitely need to focus on for the Ivy League championships next week.”
After back-to-back solid team performances at both the Princeton and Yale invitationals, Troy is confident in the Red’s chances.
“[My] game feels great,” he said. “I think when we play well we are definitely the best team in the league. The course we are playing is pretty tight off the tee so we need to make sure we stay focused on every shot and not let a drive slip out of our hands.”
A team that has been dominant with ball striking all season long, the Red knows it will need to get hot with the flat stick and make some putts if it wants to take home the school’s first ever Ivy League title.
“I also think putting will be huge for us,” Troy added. “We haven’t been putting our best this spring but have still been giving putting ourselves in a position to win. We are a very good ball striking team so if we can get some putts to fall this week we will be pretty hard to beat.”
The mindset is the same for fellow senior Graboyes, putting will be the difference.
“We’ll be formulating a game plan for this weekend and then saying a few prayers that we get some putts to drop!”
The Red will be back in action this weekend as it tries to make history at the Old Course at Stonewall in the three-day, 54-hole Ivy League Tournament.