Golf builds on last year’s success, wins invitational

After a fifth-place finish in its fall season-opener back in late September, the Carnegie Mellon varsity golf team appears to be picking up right where it left off last season.

A 308 score at the Westminster Invitational last Monday at New Castle Country Club in New Wilmington, Pa., gave Carnegie Mellon a four-stroke victory and re-established the Tartans’ ability to outshoot anyone in the field.

“I think we’re a pretty deep [team],” junior Howard Smith said. “Other teams in our region have one really good player and then they sort of fall off. I think our strength is although we don’t have that dominant player, I think anyone can shoot well on any day.”

During the 2005–06 season, the Tartans posted eight top-three finishes as they flirted with a first-ever appearance in the Division III postseason tournament.

Despite the loss of two key seniors from last year’s squad, several returning golfers proved last week that they too can post low scores.
Sophomore Alex Timmons shot a three-over 75 on a difficult course that featured fast greens and some tricky pin placements.

“Although they did put the pins in tough spots, I feel that they were a challenge, which is always welcome,” said Timmons, who sunk two birdies on his afternoon. “The course, other than them being just a little wet, was in great condition.”

Despite being three over par, Timmons (and Westminster’s Nick Marzo) outscored all but one golfer in a 10-team field that included Division II Clarion University. Fellow Tartan Chris Lee, a first-year, bested Timmons and Marzo by one stroke and took home the individual championship in just his second collegiate tournament.

“I knew all I had to do was stay within myself and just not try and do anything too special,” Lee said. “I was just trying to put together a solid round, being a freshman, just trying to contribute to the team.”

Lee fired three birdies on the day, including a memorable shot that paved the way for his first collegiate title.

“On my 17th hole, on the par-five, I hit a three-quarter three-wood from like 245 [yards] and I hit the green in two, put it to like 10 feet for eagle. I missed the eagle putt but I made birdie. I guess that won me the tournament because Timmons was just one behind me.”

Lee’s presence on this year’s squad only adds firepower to a Tartan team that headed into last season’s University Athletic Association (UAA) Championship tournament neck-and-neck with eventual UAA champion Rochester for the region’s final post-season spot.

“Chris is a solid player,” said head coach Rich Erdelyi. “He has got a great golf résumé. He has played in some really big tournaments in California and all over the country so he is a tournament-proven player.”

Not only did Timmons and Lee fire two of the top scores, but Smith parlayed three birdies into a tie for fourth place with a 76. Junior Blake Darby rounded out the Tartans’ 308 by carding an 83 while three other members of the team — sophomore Josh Chen and first-years Adam Klein and Brett Cannaday — competed as independents.

Carnegie Mellon will look to ride this early-season momentum at the Bearcat Invitational today, held at Totteridge in Greensburg, Pa. Although the critical part of the team’s season begins in the spring, success in this shortened fall season will go a long way.

“It’s almost like a dual season. We play six rounds in the fall and 11 or 12 rounds in the spring.” Erdelyi said. “Right now were just trying to get ourselves in position to hopefully be looked at and be ranked by the national committee, and if we can continue to shoot somewhere between 300 and 305, 306, 308, I think we’ll do that.”