July 20, 2013

Elis Welcome Four Freshmen

New Cohort Hails From Around Globe

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — When the Yale men's golf team returns to competition in the fall, it will be joined by four freshmen—Jonathan Lai, Nick McNiff, James Park and Li Wang—with a wealth of new energy and experience.

Together, the four freshmen will add to an already-powerful team led by senior captain Sam Bernstein, who was named Ivy League Player of the Year last year, and coach Colin Sheehan '97, who has been named Division I Northeast Coach of the Year twice in the past three years.

Indeed, the team boasts strong golfers within all its current classes, and the freshman class is no exception. They come from three countries and have put together fine results both on and off the course.

"I'm delighted to welcome this foursome of talented student athletes," Sheehan said. "They are each gifted in their own ways and I expect them to contribute positively to the team dynamic."

A native of Hong Kong, Lai joins the Elis from Arcadia High School in Arcadia, Calif. He has recorded six AJGA top-10 finishes, was the 2013 FCG Western States Champion and was 2013 Pacific League MVP. He also made the 2012 AJGA HP Scholastic All-American Honor Roll and is currently ranked 64th on the Polo Golf Rankings.

Nick McNiff, meanwhile, hails from Plymouth, Pa., and Chestnut Hills Academy. He is the brother of junior John McNiff, and will look to add to his family's contributions to the Bulldogs.

Originally from Seoul, Park attended Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Mass., where he was a four-year varsity letter recipient and captained the golf team during his junior and senior years. He tied for first at the 2011 Newport Invitational and won the 2012 Jerry Daly Cup, in addition to qualifying for the 2011 and 2012 United States Junior Amateur Championship tournaments. He has been ranked as high as the top-50 in the 2013 class nationally, and number one in Massachusetts.

Hailing from Sammamish, Wash., Wang was born in Beijing and is a four-time WJGA state champion and a 2012 AJGA HP Scholastic All-American. He has registered nine AJGA top-20 finishes and tied for 16th at the 2009 Callaway Junior World Golf Championships. In addition, he just took home the 2013 Seattle Amateur Championship. At his high school, Eastlake High School, he captained the golf team to the State Championship in his senior year.

The four new golfers will replace an equal number of seniors who graduated this past season: Russell Holmes, captain Bradley Kushner, Zachary Plutzik and Carson Weinand. Although the freshmen have large shoes to fill, if their past performances give any indication about their potential, they will be able to contribute much to the Bulldogs in the years to come.

"The Yale Golf Team doesn't rebuild, it reloads," Sheehan said.

Report filed by James Lu '14, Yale Sports Publicity.