Tartan golf team enters final week

By competing in back-to-back tournaments last week, Carnegie Mellon’s golf team tuned up for next week’s crucial University Athletic Association (UAA) championships, the conference tournament they hope will launch the team into its first ever Division III national bid.

Last Saturday and Sunday, the Tartans competed in the Edward Jones Shootout in Apollo, Pa.

Unfortunately, the team’s 611 score was four strokes behind the University of Rochester, a team with whom the Tartans are competing for the final spot in the national tournament.

After posting a 298 on Saturday, the best score of the tournament, Carnegie Mellon fired a 313 on Sunday to fall to second place.

The Tartans were led by first-year Alex Timmons and sophomore Howard Smith, who each finished in the top 10 on the leader board.

“I was hitting the ball really solid on the first day. And on the second day I wasn’t hitting it nearly as close — I didn’t hit as many greens — but I was able to make some putts and keep it to a decent score,” said Smith, who fired a two-day score of 152, eight shots over par, for a sixth-place finish.

“The second day was a little frustrating because we had Rochester on the ropes and we kind of let them beat us.”

Timmons followed his 74 on Saturday with a 75 on Sunday to take fourth place at the Spring Church Club.

“I putted well; I don’t think I had any three-putts; and I hit a bunch of greens, which helped a lot,” said Timmons, who, as one of the Tartans’ longer hitters, benefited from the course’s shorter distances and wide fairways. An eagle on hole 18 highlighted Timmons’ weekend and gave him a 149 for the tournament.

Following the weekend event, four Tartans competed as individuals the next day at the Grove City Invitational, where again Timmons and Smith posted two of the top scores.

Timmons, who fired an even par-72 for a second-place finish, credited his success to his mental approach to the round.

“I was playing smart,” Timmons said. “I was just trying to minimize my bad shots. If I hit a bad shot I wouldn’t just try to make birdie from there. I tried to minimize and play for a par or bogey.”

Smith took fourth place in the tournament with a two-over 74 at the Grove City Country Club.
Although the four Tartans who competed — Smith, Timmons, sophomore Denver Falk, and junior Aanand Radia — entered the event as individuals, thus preventing their combined score from counting toward the final team standings, the foursome’s combined 307 score would have been the lowest team score of the tournament.

That low combined score “just shows the depth of our team,” Smith said.

The Tartans will compete in the UAA championships at Minscongo Country Club in Pomona, N.Y., today and tomorrow, and the team hopes to put together two strong rounds to secure a national tournament bid.

“I think they’re really grinding. They’re playing hard,” coach Rich Erdelyi said. “The carrot is sort of dangling there. They’re trying to reach for it.”