BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The University of Pennsylvania men’s golf team finished last at the Ivy League Championships last year.
On Sunday, with four players from last year’s lineup back in this year’s lineup, the Quakers were able to complete a surging comeback to take the 2015 Ivy League Men’s Golf Championship by one stroke.
As a team, Penn shot a one-under-par 287 on Saucon Valley Country Club’s par-72 Grace Course Sunday, making up five strokes from Princeton to gain a one-stroke win over the Tigers. Penn’s three-round score was 885, while Princeton’s was 886; they were the only two teams to break 900.
“Midway through today’s round I was concerned that Princeton was just not going to give us a chance to put the pressure on,” said head coach Bob Heintz. “But Dane Walton threw in eagles on his 10th and 13th holes, and Patrick O'Leary hit his last nine greens in regulation. Combined, our top four scorers played the final nine in 7-under par.
“We brought it to the house like champions down the stretch, and won a great tournament over an excellent Princeton team.”
Heintz put his two seniors at the top of the lineup to lead the way. They sure did on Sunday. Austin Powell was in the final group and completed the comeback by birdying four of the six final holes. He ended up carding a five-under 67, tied for the lowest round of the day, and finished second overall at 3-under-par 213. Ben Cooley , meanwhile, had his second-straight tremendous day and birdied four of the back nine holes to ignite the final surge for Penn. Cooley finished even on the day and at 222 overall to finish fourth, good enough to join Powell as a first-team All-Ivy honoree.
“I am so proud of our seniors,” said Heintz. “For Austin and Ben to finish a combined seven under par for their last six holes was just outstanding. The two of them have been mainstays of Penn golf for four years, and finishing their Ivy Championships careers in such a dramatic fashion is extremely exciting."
Penn’s win is only the third one-stroke victory in championship history; ironically, the Quakers were on the other side of the coin the last time it happened, in 2009 when they fell by a stroke to Columbia. Penn is also the first team to ever win the championship following a last-place finish the year prior.
Spurred by those two back-nine eagles, the sophomore Walton had another solid day for the Quakers, carding a 74 and finishing tied for 11th in the field of 40 golfers at 226. O’Leary, a junior was Penn’s other scorer on Sunday, carding a 74 and tying for 20th overall at 230. Freshman Amay Poria shot an 80 on Sunday and finished the weekend 30th overall at 234.
Princeton’s Quinn Prchal won medalist honors in record fashion, as he carded a 6-under-par 210 on the weekend to match the best individual score in tourney history.
With its team championship, Penn advances to the NCAA Regional Championships and will learn its destination when the NCAA selections are announced on Monday, May 4 during the Golf Channel's "Morning Drive" show. This year's regionals will run from May 14-16 in Bremerton, Wash.; New Haven, Conn.; San Diego, Calif.; Lubbock, Texas; Noblesville, Ind.; and Chapel Hill, N.C. The NCAA Championships will take place May 29-June 3 at the Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Fla.