Spiegel’s Eagle: Chips and dips

Quinnipiac navigates tough course conditions at Yale Invitational.


Peyton McKenzie

Sophomore Meg Yoshida recorded three top-15 finishes as a freshman in 2021-22.

Jack Spiegel, Photography Editor

The defending MAAC champion Quinnipiac women’s golf team opened the fall season at the Yale Invitational by posting a collective 30-over-par, earning them a seventh place finish after three rounds.

Athletes from 15 schools hit the patch-filled links at the 5,144-yard Yale Golf Course this weekend.

Quinnipiac head coach John O’Connor said that “putting on these greens is very, very difficult” due to dead grass and large undulations in the greens.

What was once renowned as one of the best golf courses in Connecticut lost its charm once the pandemic hit, and their superintendent of 17 years departed.

Golf Digest reported that Yale reduced the number of maintenance staff members from 24 to two, and restricted them to four hours of work per day.

The university did, though, announce a $25 million restoration to the course in Sept. 2021. The goal was to revive the course back to its original state, but signs of the rehabilitation were few and far between.

One of the most unusual parts of this course was the par-3 ninth hole where a nearly 10-foot-deep valley in the middle of the green hosted the pin. This dip was an unexpected challenge for everyone on the team, except for captain Leeyen Peralta, who was the only player to shoot par or better in the third round.

O’Connor said that the third round was the only day of the tournament where the hole was located in that valley.

Following Saturday’s opening round 83 (+12), senior Kaylee Sakoda rebounded by shooting a second-round 71 and third-round 69 at the fall season opener.

Considering the wet and muggy weather, along with difficult course conditions, Sakoda posted her best score of the weekend on Sunday.

“Today was my best round,” Sakoda said on Sept. 11. She also acknowledged her first-round struggles saying that her third-round performance was “quite an improvement.”

Along with Sakoda, team captain Leeyen Peralta,  Aimee Uchida, Meg Yoshida and Fuge Zhang were also playing this weekend.

Not all of the Bobcats were able to crack this difficult course. Neither Yoshida or Zhang were able to break par in any of the three rounds.

Despite the challenging course conditions, O’Connor considered the team’s third round to be record breaking.

Not only was the third round record breaking, but the team posted its best three-round, combined score (+30) in program history this weekend.

“We’re about four-over-par for the round for four scores, which is amazing,” O’Connor said. The Bobcats ended up finishing the day at 5-over-par.

Though Quinnipiac posted one of the best scores of the third round, they could not beat Pennsylvania, Yale, JMU, Georgia Southern, Maryland or Harvard, who posted a 1-under.

Despite the result, O’Connor has a positive outlook on the rest of the season for the Bobcats, especially within the MAAC.

“Albany is our only competition in our conference,” O’Connor said. “And we’re ahead of them by 20 or 30 strokes.”

Though Albany may be its only in-conference competition, Quinnipiac struggled to fare on the national stage. The team came in last place out of 12 teams at the NCAA Regional tournament back in May.

Following last year’s MAAC championship, Sakoda is confident another one is on the way.

“Our squad is the same as last year,” Sakoda said. “So with another year of experience, I think we’re gonna do pretty well.”

O’Connor also said that he would consider this a successful year if his team defends their MAAC title.

The Bobcats will return home to Connecticut for the Quinnipiac Classic on Oct. 11, after traveling up and down the east coast for tournaments hosted by Boston College and Navy.