As Penn men’s golf looks to respond from a frustrating finish at last week’s Princeton Invitational, the Quakers will get another chance to face Ivy competition when they travel to New Haven for the Yale Spring Invitational on Saturday. Here are three things to watch as the Red and Blue seek redemption:
Forget last week’s 11th-place finish, the Quakers are in a much better place than they were at the beginning of this semester
In an interview just after spring break, sophomore Josh Goldenberg said that the team’s last-place finish at the Colleton River Collegiate was “absolutely not” indicative of what the team is actually capable of. He stated that the team’s combined score of +81 over the 54-hole tournament was partially due to the long break from competitive play and the rust from that. Junior Amay Poria asserted that, “it’s definitely not a representation of how we’re going to play the rest of the spring.”
They were right.
In the Colleton River Collegiate, the five players posted an average combined score of 315 over three rounds. In late March at the Towson Spring Invitational, the average was 304. Last weekend, it was all the way down to 299.
The course at Yale does not treat the Red and Blue well.
Last spring, the men’s golf team’s worst performance came at this very meet. The best performing Quaker, Poria, was tied for 45th place, and the team finished a combined +73 over the 36 holes of play — last place in the 13-team field.
At the same course this fall, the Red and Blue put in a similarly uninspiring performance. This season, the combined score was brought down to a more respectable +46, but the team still finished close to the bottom (13th of 15).
The course is undeniably challenging, as evidenced by its 132 slope rating, a common measure of difficulty in a course (for comparison, the Old Course at St. Andrew’s, which hosted the British Open in 2015, also has a 132 rating). Nonetheless, the Quakers need to get over their run of poor play at the New Haven-based course in order to contend.
The team is at its best when Matt Kern is at his best
Arguably the team’s two best performances this season — the fourth-place finish (of 15 teams) at the Quechee Club Collegiate Challenge, and the eighth-place finish (of 22 teams) at the Towson Spring Invitational — were both accompanied by stellar performances from senior Matt Kern. At the Quechee Challenge, he shot 74 and 71 in the two rounds, which tied him for the best on the team and was good for seventh place overall. In the Towson Invitational, he totaled +7 over 36 holes of play, which was the second lowest Penn score behind junior Carter Thompson and secured him a tie for 30th place in the massive field. As Kern goes, the Quakers follow.
But Penn men’s golf isn’t the only team looking to respond from a tough weekend, as both men’s heavyweight crew and lightweight crew also came up short last weekend in Ivy League competitions. Fortunately, both teams have a quick turnaround and another chance to win some hardware this Saturday.
Due to the large amounts of rainfall, all competitions last weekend were moved from the Schuylkill River to Princeton, which may have played a part in the Quakers’ inability to top the leaderboard.
For the lightweight side, last weekend’s Matthews Trophy-Leonard Cup was its first taste of competitive rowing since October. Competing with the Red and Blue were Cornell and Harvard, and it was the Big Red who asserted themselves. Cornell’s Varsity 8 covered 2,000 meters in 6:16.9, with the Crimson and Quakers following closely behind with times of 6:19.2 and 6:22.8, respectively.
The heavyweights fared better in their first Ivy League race, but were unable to overcome the Princeton Varsity 8’s time of 6:18.9 to win the Childs Cup. Their time of 6:21.4 was good for second place, finishing almost 14 seconds in front of last-place Columbia.
This weekend, the lightweight team will travel to New Haven to participate in the Dodge Cup, where it will compete against Ivy League foes Columbia and Yale. Expect the team to challenge for the top after getting the rust off last week.
The heavyweights will follow them up to Yale to also square off against Columbia and Yale but for the Blackwell Cup. Coach Geoff Bond did not shy away from emphasizing the importance of Ivy League showdowns like this, but he feels that the team is in a good position to succeed after the extensive fine-tuning the team did earlier this spring.
“[The cup races] provide opportunities for you to work out lineups, look at combinations and so forth,” he said. “They’re very much about development ... but the big show is at the end of the season.”
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