Men's spring preview: Ivy League

Princeton's Quinlan Prchal

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Princeton has won 19 Ivy League titles since 1975, but none since 2006. But if the fall was any indication, the Tigers could get No. 20 this spring.

Princeton won the Ivy League Match Play last October at TPC Jasna Polana in Princeton, N.J., defeating Dartmouth, Brown and Cornell to finish atop the eight-team field. The Tigers also finished three spots ahead of Yale at the Big Five Invitational and lost to only one conference team head-to-head in four fall events, finishing behind Dartmouth at the McLaughlin.

“Even though it’s a different format (than what we’ll play at the Ivy League tournament), it’s still a great chance to measure yourself against your peers,” Princeton head coach Will Green said. “Our first goal every year, naturally, is to win a conference title. We have young men who are committed to it and despite having to balance academics and golf, have worked hard to put themselves in a position to do that.”

It’s been a while since the Tigers even competed for an Ivy League title. Princeton’s 2006 title was its sixth in seven seasons, but in the six conference tournaments since then, the Tigers have finished no better than fifth.

A big reason for the team’s improvement is freshman Quinlan Prchal, who has been a nice addition to a veteran lineup consisting of senior Bernie D’Amato and juniors Greg Jarmas and Nicholas Ricci. Prchal had a team-best finish of T-8 at the Brickyard Collegiate in Macon, Ga., which was easily the toughest tournament of the fall for the Tigers. He also won all three of his matches at the Ivy League Match Play.

“His impact has been felt throughout the entire team,” Green said. “These freshmen can come in with all the credentials in the world, but you really don’t know what you have until you throw them into the mix. For him to come in and contribute right away, it’s been a huge boost.”

Yale was the 2011 Ivy League champion and current favorite this season according to the Golfweek/Sagarin College Rankings – the Bulldogs are ranked an Ivy League-best No. 101, 30 spots ahead of Princeton. But the Tigers arguably have more momentum, and despite having to deal with the typical Northeast weather conditions, should carry most of it over to the spring.

“It’s hard to develop a plan because you just don’t know what you’re going to deal with,” Green said. “One year we hosted a tournament and it was so cold that the players were having trouble signing their scorecards. They couldn’t even make a fist.

“But our goal to trying to make sure that after spring break we’ve already shaken off the cobwebs of winter and that we’re prepared.”

And if Princeton can fight through the conditions – and its Ivy League counterparts – this spring, No. 20 might be a real possibility.

• • •

Where it stands now

Top of the class: Yale

Best player this fall: Quinlan Prchal, Princeton

• • •

Past champions

2008: Columbia

2009: Columbia

2010: Columbia

2011: Yale

2012: Pennsylvania

• • •

Conference capsules

Yale (Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: No. 101)

Bulldogs started fall with a second-place finish at the Adams Cup and a team victory at the MacDonald Cup. But Yale did cool off, finishing seventh at the Big Five Invitational and fourth at the Ivy League Match Play.

Princeton (No. 131)

Tigers’ fall included a victory at the Ivy League Match Play, as well as a seventh-place finish at the McLaughlin and T-11 showing at the Brickyard Collegiate.

Harvard (No. 177)

Crimson had a disappointing showing at the Ivy League Match Play without junior Seiji Liu, who was recovering from a wrist injury. But a fifth-place finish at the MacDonald Cup was a better indicator of this team’s ability.

Penn (No. 184)

Victory at the Rehoboth Beach Fall Invitational was the highlight of the fall for the Quakers, who also finished second behind Missouri at the Champs/Patriot Intercollegiate.

Dartmouth (No. 203)

Big Green ended up second behind Princeton at the Ivy League Match Play and posted two other top 10s during the fall (fifth at the McLaughlin and ninth at Shoal Creek Invitational).

Columbia (No. 239)

Lions closed the fall with its best finish in four tournaments (ninth at the Big Five Invitational).

Cornell (No. 261)

Big Red’s best fall finish was a third-place showing at the Cornell Invitational. Cornell also beat Harvard at the Ivy League Match Play.

Brown (No. 264)

Bears might be the lowest-ranked team in the conference, but they finished ahead of three other Ivy League teams at the Big Five Invitational (Dartmouth, Penn and Cornell) and topped both Yale and Harvard at the Ivy League Match Play.

Conference championship

April 26-28, Caves Valley GC, Owings Mills, Md.

Lance Ringler's prediction

Princeton. It will come down to which team – Yale or Princeton – plays better at the bottom of the lineup. Princeton features the best player in the league in freshman Quinlan Prchal, but the Tigers will need help at the bottom of the lineup to win the conference title for the first time since 2006.

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