GALLOWAY, N.J. - The Penn men's golf team entered Sunday's final round of the Ivy League Championships down by 16 strokes and behind three teams. Given those factors, they decided that the best approach was to play like they had nothing to lose.
That thought process led to an epic day.
The Quakers went out and shot 297 as a team to surpass their Sunday playing partners, third-place Harvard (303 for the day, 922 for the tournament). When the last players had come in, Penn went into the clubhouse with a 917 score for the 54-hole tournament and were forced to sit around and wait as second-round leader Dartmouth and second-place Columbia's players finished up.
As the each layer of the lineup finished -- No. 5, No. 4, etc. -- Penn found itself increasingly in the mix. And when the Big Green and Lions' top players finally holed out on No. 18, Dartmouth's score was 313 for the day while Columbia's was 312. That put the Lions at 920 for the tournament, behind Penn. Where did the Big Green's 313 leave them? At 917 -- tied with Penn.
On to a team playoff, the first of its kind in the 38-year history of the event.
Both Penn and Dartmouth's lineups -- all 10 players -- went to the 18th tee. All 10 teed off. All 10 played to the green. All 10 putted out. When the scores were tallied, the Quakers' top four scores and the Big Green's top four scores were equal.
On to the par-3 17th. On the second playoff hole, four Penn players ended at par, and so did four Dartmouth players.
Back to 18. By this time, the tension was growing as long as the shadows over the fairway as the sun continued to lower. Two players -- one Penn, one Dartmouth -- hit into the woods and took relief, a one-stroke penalty. Soon enough, however, all 10 players were on the green and it became a game of putts.
Dartmouth came in with a four, a four and a five. For Penn, P.J. Fielding got up and down for an even-par four, while freshman Austin Powell got a five. The Quakers got a huge bump when Max Marsico sunk his birdie putt, and took a one-stroke lead.
At this point, Dartmouth had two players left to putt out, one who could do no better than a four, the other who was already at five and knew his score wouldn't be counted. For Penn, Colin St. Maxens was at five and knew his score would not count for the Quakers on the hole.
That left the Red and Blue's senior captain, Scotty Williams. His par putt -- the potential winner -- did not have much distance to travel, but given the situation it was hardly a gimme. He went through his routine, stood over the ball, and stroked the ball.
With that, the Quakers exploded with joy and rushed the green to celebrate their first Ivy title since 2007 and the third in program history (the first came in 1998).
With the championship, Penn will represent the Ivy League at the NCAA regional level. The NCAA will announce its three regional fields on Monday, May 7 at 9 p.m. This year's regionals are being held from May 17-19 in Greensboro, N.C.; Athens, Ga.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Bowling Green, Ky.; Norman, Okla.; and Stanford, Calif. From there, Penn can qualify for the NCAA Division Men's Golf Championships, which will take place May 29-June 3 at the Rivera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif.
So how did they get to the playoff? Mostly on the strength of Fielding and Marsico. Fielding shot a 70 in the regulation 18 on Sunday, the second-best performance in the field for the day. He ended the tournament at 225, the low Penn scorer and fourth overall (earning him first-team All-Ivy). Marsico, meanwhile, carded a 73 which put him at 237 for the event.
Williams had a 77 on Sunday and finished at 226, fifth place overall which gave him first-team All-Ivy status for the third straight year. St. Maxens matched him with a Sunday 77, and tied for 11th overall at 232. Freshman Powell carded a 79 on Sunday and finished the tournament with a 244, tying for 29th.
Dartmouth's Peter Williamson won the individual title, his third time taking the honor. He shot a 71 on Sunday and finished at even-par 213 for the tournament.