After overcoming a difficult course on a challenging first day, the Red slipped up and took a fourth place finish in Men’s Ivy League Championship at Stonewall this weekend, while senior Mike Graboyes came up one stroke shy of the individual title.
With a team score of 904 — 64 over par — the Red finished a full 24 strokes behind first place Yale, two strokes behind Dartmouth and just a single shot behind Harvard. Junior (Jack) Tianyi Cen finished tied for eighth and made second-team All-Ivy, while Graboyes capped off a historic career with a first-team All-Ivy nod, his fourth consecutive All-Ivy selection. Graboyes placed third individually, one stroke behind Yale’s Eoin Leonard and James Nicholas.
The 54-hole tournament featured all sorts of challenges, from a demanding course with a challenging first few holes to windy and brisk weather conditions. A par 70 that plays just over 6850 yards, Stonewall’s front nine hurt the Red.
“The first few holes played difficult because they are pretty demanding off the tee compared to the rest of the course,” said freshman Charlie Dubiel. “Water [and] trees come into play on each of them, while the back nine features mostly fescue grass off the fairway.”
Unfortunately for the Red, it drew the first group of tee times on Friday and was forced to play the tough opening stretch under adverse weather conditions.
“We were a bit unlucky to draw the first group of tee times on Friday, because we played the front nine in some pretty cold and windy conditions,” Dubiel said. “When it’s cold early in the round, it definitely takes a few swings to get into rhythm, and the first six holes don’t give you much margin for error.”
Difficulty on the opening stretch was a common theme for the Red, as senior Chris Troy posted two doubles and a triple bogey on his opening nine, but fought back to finish tied for 20th individually.
“The first day I struggled; I made a few too many big numbers which led to the high score,” he said. “It was definitely difficult playing in the wind that day, and it was hard for me to turn my round around after starting poorly. The next few days I started to play better and had more confidence in my game.”
Accustomed to cold and windy Ithaca, the Red still posted a score of 303 on the first day, good enough for third place going into Saturday.
Although the weather had settled down a little, Saturday proved to a mental test for the Red, as pressure and mental fatigue came into play. On a day where almost every team improved their score, the Red finished day two with another 303.
“I can’t speak for everyone else, but I definitely put a little too much pressure on myself after the first day,” Dubiel said. “I figured since I was in a pretty good position, I should be right about the same or lower on Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, these expectations negatively affected my play, as I got a bit frustrated when some putts didn’t go my way, especially on Sunday.”
The same mental struggles held true for Graboyes, who posted his tournament-high 77 on Saturday. He attributed his second day struggles to a lack of focus.
“[It was] just my ability to focus,” he said. “It’s really unfortunate because since it turned out to be my last college event, I should have been extremely focused the whole time, and I wasn’t. I left shots out there the first two days that were really uncharacteristic of my season, and it’s frustrating.”
Graboyes and the Red turned it around on Sunday with scores of 70 and 298, but it was a story of too little too late as Yale posted a tournament-low team score of 282 — two over par — on the final day.
“The final day I was focused on almost every shot and had one bad hole combined with one bad break,” Graboyes said after finishing one stroke behind the co-leaders. “To lose by one after giving up so many shots the first two days and then three bad holes on the final day hasn’t left a good feeling in my stomach.”
Although this isn’t the finish to the season the Red was hoping for, senior Chris Troy said he is proud of his teammates and excited to see what they have in store.
“I’m proud of the team this year,” Troy said. “We played well all year, and I think the team has a bright future.”
As for fellow senior Mike Graboyes, although his Cornell career is over, he plans to continue with his golf career and will head down to Florida in August with the hopes of making the PGA tour.