Coming into the Ivy League Championship in late April, Will Green believed that his Princeton University men’s golf team was in the mix for the title.
“It was wide open without a doubt,” said Princeton head coach Green of the three-round event which took place at the Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings, Md.
“Yale cemented themselves as the favorite, winning two tournaments and coming in second in another. With the depth of the team and the parity in the league, I thought there were six teams that had a chance if they played well. I knew what we had in our players and I knew we would compete. All spring, there had been an unwavering confidence.”
Although Princeton stood in fourth place going into final round, Green had a good feeling about his team’s chances as it got ready to take the course.
“There were five teams within four shots, that is one hole,” said Green. “I was quite emotional; I knew how hard these guys had worked. I was about 20 yards from Quinn [freshman star Quinn Prchal] as he walked to the first tee and I said ‘go get it and he said yes sir.’ I thought he is going to get a good number today; I could see that he had a quiet confidence.”
The Tigers went out and played with a collective confidence, firing a final round total of 288 to post an 883 and win the title, topping runner-up Yale by five strokes. The triumph qualified Princeton for the NCAAs and the Tigers will take part in the regional at the Palouse Ridge Golf Club in Pullman, Wash. from May 16-18.
In reflecting on how things unfolded on the final day of the Ivy tournament, Green said his team followed a winning script.
“It was going to take a solid round from everyone and some some special play and that is what we got,” said Green, who got an even par round of 70 from junior Greg Jarmas, the Ivy individual champion, with Prchal firing a 69, Bernie D’Amato carding a 74, Nicholas Ricci getting a 75, and Matt Gerber posting a 76. “It was a collective effort.”
In the view of his team’s superb effort, Green wasn’t overly focused on the standings.
“Yale still had five guys on the course when we finished,” recalled Green “I was so happy with how the guys played, it didn’t matter whether we won or not. With our season on the line, we played great.”
Jarmas certainly played great as he ended up with a three-over 213 to finish three shots better than Penn’s Max Marisco and P.J. Fielding.
“Greg and I talked during the week, he has been playing well and he knew he could be the variable for us,” recalled Green.
“If he played well, we would have a good chance of winning. I walked all 54 holes with Greg. I wasn’t his caddie but I wanted to keep him calm and focused. We were talking about his shots and what he needed to do.”
Over the final two holes, Jarmas made some huge shots. “He made a 17-foot for par on 17,” said Green.
“On 18, he hit a 320-yard drive, he said to me I am jacked up, I told him to slow things down. We walked really slow and took in the environment around us. It is a beautiful setting. He had 124 yards to the hole and he hit a gap wedge 25-30 feet past the hole but still on the green. He made the 30-foot putt and I knew what we had and where Yale was and that he had a chance to win the individual title.”
Once the team and individual titles were confirmed, Green’s emotions bubbled over.
“The joy I had was for the players who had put in so much effort,” asserted Green.
“I texted an alum from 40 years ago who been so supportive and helped us financially and said this was for you. He texted back that he had tears in his eyes and so did I.”
In Green’s view, the win is important on both the short term and long term for the Tigers.
“We have had an exceptional golf program as long as the sport has been played in the Ivy League,” said Green, who is in his 14th season guiding the Tigers and has now led Princeton to seven Ivy crowns.
“It is our 24th title but we hadn’t won since 2006. It was good to know that we still have it and that we are one of the premier programs in the league and the northeast.
We’ll see what impact it has; hopefully it will help us with recruiting.”
Green is confident the Tigers can make an impact at the NCAA regional.
“Our goal is to advance to the finals,” said Green, whose team will need to finish in the top five to qualify for the NCAA Championship at the Capital City Club in Atlanta from May 28-June 2.
“We are not going out there to be a sacrificial lamb or for ceremonial purposes. We are going to compete.”