Tartan golfers fall two short of a victory

Another tournament meant another impressive performance by Carnegie Mellon’s varsity golf team. Last Thursday, the Tartans hosted the annual Carnegie Mellon Invitational at the Longue Vue Country Club and finished second, firing a 299 in the one-day tournament — two strokes behind Washington & Jefferson University. The Tartans’ B-team finished third, posting a 320.

Between the two squads, the Tartans carded six of the top eight scores for the tournament amid ideal weather.

“I thought our kids played very well. It was a perfect day to play. It was 63, 64 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, no wind. The greens were receptive,” said coach Rich Erdelyi. “The course was in perfect shape, and I think the scores reflected that. Eight out of our nine kids shot in the 70s. It was a fine day, and we were very consistent.”

Despite the Tartans’ solid play, Washington & Jefferson won the tournament with a 297, led by first-year Marc Fillari, who shot a remarkable two-under 68.

“He just seemed like he made every putt. And sometimes that happens, and when that happens you shoot really low,” said senior A.J. Straub, who, while paired with Fillari, carded three birdies of his own. “His play was the difference. We all played solid. One low score like that turns a close match into a win for whoever gets the low score.”

Senior Matt Simone paced the Tartans’ low scoring with a 74, four over par at the Verona course.

“Overall I was pretty happy with how I played,” said Simone, who shot two birdies and an eagle.

“Number eight [I] hit a big drive on the par five … and stuck a seven-iron to like three feet and made the putt for eagle.”

First-year Alex Timmons, the team’s other long hitter, also recorded two birdies to fire a fiveover 75 and a tie for fourth place.

Following a shaky beginning due to his short game, Timmons began his recovery on his sixth hole of the shotgun start.

“I actually made a pretty long putt for that day anyway. I made like a 20-footer for birdie a lot of break between right to left. So that kind of got me confidence-wise going,” Timmons said. “I was four over at that point, and I finished the day at five over, and that was only my sixth hole. That was probably a big putt because I hadn’t been putting well all day.”

Sophomore Blake Darby also gained confidence and momentum from his short game. After sinking a 40-foot putt for birdie on his second hole, Darby, who finished the day with a five-over 75, reached the par-three and tapped in a four-footer for back-to-back birdies. Sophomore Howard Smith’s 76 rounded out the scoring for the Tartans’ first squad, while first-year Joshua Chen fired a 75 to lead the Tartan B team. Senior Randahl Matsuno and junior Aanand Radia completed the sub-80 scoring with 77 and 79, respectively.

“When you have your B team post three scores in the 70s, it’s just terrific. They had a very nice day,” Erdelyi said. The team’s depth and growing confidence are only part of the reason for the Tartans’ string of four consecutive top-three finishes.

“I think right now we’re playing intelligently,” Erdelyi said. “We’re playing with our head and understanding that it’s an individual game but it’s a team game too. You can’t sacrifice yourself and say, ‘I’m going to try to pull off this miraculous shot’ and end up costing your team maybe three or four strokes.”

Simone agreed. “I don’t think there are too many of us who try to pull off hero shots as far as that goes,” he said. “So I think we really understand that we have a lot of solid guys. We don’t necessarily have to go low to put together a good team score. If we have a bad hole we just got to put it out of our minds and know that everyone else is most likely playing well.”

The team has kept on pace for its first trip to the Division III national tournament, as it is virtually tied for second place with Washington & Jefferson, one of the schools the Tartans will face today at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Championship in Hershey, Pa.

“Every tournament we play is to get us in a better position for nationals,” Timmons said. “Every shot we hit, we’re thinking, ‘You got to hit this one well for nationals.’ ”