Coming off of a seventh-place finish in the Ivy League Championships to conclude its 2018-19 campaign, Cornell golf hopes to bounce back and return to the upper echelon of the Ancient Eight as it starts its season this weekend.
This year, the team will be without last season’s top performer in now-graduated Tianyi Cen ’19. Cen averaged 2.7 strokes over par between the fall and spring seasons last year.
In 2019-20, senior Jack Casler — the team’s highest returning scorer — will lead the Red into its first tournament of the season this weekend at the Alex Lagowitz Memorial Tournament, hosted by Colgate.
A predominantly younger, inexperienced squad will join Casler in the starting lineup. Junior Charlie Dubiel returns for his third season in Ithaca; last year, he averaged 3.9 strokes above par, improving upon his 4.2 average from his freshman season. The team will need Dubiel to take another step forward if they expect to compete for an Ivy crown in the spring.
“For the season as a whole, I think that we have a great chance to win our first team Ivy League championship this season,” Casler said. “Individual performance is a big part of that, and my game feels like it is in a good spot to start the season. If we stay committed to practicing throughout the year, we are going to be really successful.”
Rounding out the starters will be sophomore Gus Lascola and freshmen Josh Lundmark and Sam King. All three will make their first career starts this weekend in Hamilton, N.Y.
“I am really excited for this year,” Casler said. “I think that we have a great group of guys who are motivated to work hard this season. We are a lot stronger from top to bottom as compared to last year, and I think that is going to help us be a very competitive team.”
At last season’s Lagowitz Memorial Tournament, the Red fared particularly well, placing third among the 17 teams participating.
Casler finished the tournament tied for second place individually at one under par. While Dubiel ended the weekend at 10 over par, the duo gained important experience at Seven Oaks Golf Club this summer. Both players also participated in the U.S. Amateur Open Qualifying at the Colgate golf course in July.
While there are high expectations for the newcomers this season, the squad understands that there will be growing pains throughout the year, as the team is concentrating on each individual hole throughout the three rounds every weekend.
“When I played with some of the younger guys the last few days, it’s pretty easy to see that they have the raw skill and game to make a smooth transition to college golf, so I think a lot of our focus will be on course management and just staying really focused and committed to the game plan for all 54 holes every week,” Dubiel said.
Dubiel said this year’s team is “the deepest it has ever been here.”
“It will definitely keep everyone sharp, given that we have eight to 10 guys who are capable of starting, whereas it has been more like five the last few years,” Dubiel said.
The Red will follow up its first tournament of the season Sept. 14 and 15 when it hosts the Cornell Invitational at Robert Trent Jones Golf Course. Last year, the Red placed tenth out of 15 teams at the tournament, which is the only home event of the school year for Cornell.