This past weekend, the men’s and women’s golf teams both competed in their respective Ivy League Championships. The men’s team, an underdog team coming in to the tournament, won the event leading from start to finish its first title since 2013 and its 30th in program history.
Princeton had two top three finishers with junior captain Evan Quinn finishing in second place by two strokes behind Yale’s James Nicholas and sophomore Sam Clayman finishing one more shot back in a three-way tie for third place. The women finished fourth, getting better over the course of the tournament. Junior Maya Walton, who finished tied for fifth five shots off the lead, led the Tigers.
For the men, they kicked off the tournament with the second best combined round in the fielding, shooting 288. They were led by Quinn and Clayman, who shot three and two under, respectively. After this first day lead, Quinn and Clayman sat in first and second individually heading in to the second day, helping the Tigers build an eight-stroke lead over Yale.
After another strong round on Saturday, Princeton had three top-three players with Clayman and Quinn joined by freshman Max Ting. The Bulldogs had narrowed the Tigers’ lead to two strokes by the end of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Columbia made a huge charge shooting the low round of the tournament at 283, but Princeton was able to fight off this comeback and win by one stroke over the Lions. Yale, the favorite coming in to the tournament, finished third, two shots behind the Tigers making this the closest three-team finish in the 45-year history of the Ivy League Golf Championship.
Quinn commented, “Winning Ivies was an amazing feeling because it was such a team effort. Everyone did exactly what they needed to do for us to win. We are a very young team, with fourth-fifths of the players at Ivies being underclassmen. Playing with the lead is a lot of pressure, and it felt incredible to be able to overcome that and squeak out the win.”
“It’s safe to say that we were not the favorites coming into the Ivy League Championships. Yale beat us by 34 shots at our home tournament just two weeks ago, which was disheartening,“ Quinn added on beating Yale. “We knew we didn’t play anywhere near our best, but it was hard to stay positive after losing that badly. For us, we saw Ivies as an opportunity to leave the rest of the Spring season behind us. We peaked at the right time, and winning makes up for the struggles we had earlier in the year.”
One key shot for Princeton was sophomore Jack Roberts’ eagle on the 17th hole where he found himself behind a clump of trees 220 yards out. Roberts pulled out his 8 iron and went under one tree and over another, putting the ball 20 feet away from the cup on the green where he then rolled the putt in for one of five eagles in the entire tournament.
“I had checked the scores going into the hole, and we were losing, so I knew as a team we needed to make up some shots. I pushed my tee shot right and was in the trees, which I had done the previous two rounds as well,“ Roberts said of his decision to play aggressive.
“When I got to the ball, I only had two options. Either I punch out backwards, and pretty much eliminate the possibility of a birdie, or take a chance by hitting an iron shot through the trees and over another set of trees. After talking with Coach Green, we decided to take a chance on hitting through the trees,“ Roberts added.
In the women’s tournament, Walton led Princeton the entire time, finishing tied for fourth after the first two rounds and tied for fifth after the last round. The Tigers faced a course with extremely tough conditions and struggled to break out of the middle of the pack, sitting in fourth after the first round, fifth after the second, and finishing in fourth at the end of the tournament.
Freshman Sophie Siminoff was also a top ten finisher for the Tigers at 13 over. Harvard won the tournament by six strokes over Dartmouth and 12 over third place finisher Columbia. The Crimson was driven by a strong final round, shooting the low round of the tournament at 290.
“The team has had an amazing year with 3 tournament wins, and while we did not manage to bring our best to the Ivy Championship, there is still a lot to be proud of. As a senior, I have seen so much improvement in the women’s team throughout the years. I am certain that this past weekend’s loss will only fuel the team to come back next year even hungrier. Though my final season as a Tiger didn’t end ideally, I walk away from it with many great memories and friends. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the golf program in the coming years,“ senior co-captain Tiana Lau remarked, reflecting on her time at Princeton.
The men’s season will continue by gaining the Ivy League’s automatic berth to the NCAA Regionals. They will find out which regional they are going to next Wednesday, May 1, at 9 p.m. on the Golf Channel. Regionals will take place from May 12 to May 15 at six courses across the country.