Golf rolls in Little Three; looks ahead to Nationals at Taconic

The Williams golf team dominated Amherst 8.5-3.5 and Wesleyan 10.5-1.5 last Wednesday to win the Little Three Championships held at Taconic Golf Course. With the win, the Ephs look strong heading into the NCAA Men’s Golf Championships to be held next week at Taconic.

As usual, tri-captain Devin Redmond ’99 led the team, shooting a 73, while number eight golfer Bob Stanton ’01 came up with a 75. Strong performances were also turned in by tri-captain Tony McCutcheon ’99, John McCoy ’01 and David Feigenbaum ’01.

The win was especially important for seniors on the team, as they had lost the Little Three Championships to Amherst during previous two years despite being favored to win. That was not going to be the case this time, as the Ephs took control of the match by jumping out to a 4-2 lead in the morning. Williams then outgolfed Amherst 6-2 in the afternoon to thwart any hopes of a comeback by the Jeffs.

“It seemed to me the reason for our success in Little Threes,” said tri-captain Mike Szkodzinski ’99, “was our success on the scoring shots — shots around the green that can save your score and making putts under pressure when it counted.”

The Ephs hope that their impressive victory at the Little Threes will propel them to even greater success in the NCAA Championships. The Ephs head to the tournament as the third-seeded team in District One after top-ranked Skidmore and Hamilton. Though the Ephs were disappointed to lose the second seed to Hamilton, according to Szkodzinski, they felt that the year was successful overall. The squad won the St. Anselm Tournament and Division III New Englands in the fall, and it capped off the spring regular season with the overpowering win in the Little Threes.

Williams hopes to finish in the top ten at this year’s NCAAs, building upon their fourteenth place finish last year. The team has steadily improved at the NCAAs the last three years, as they went from twenty-second in 1996 to sixteenth in 1997 to fourteenth last year. The key, Szkodzinski feels, to the team placing higher is for one or two players to shoot below a 76 each of the four rounds, as well as getting four scores under 80 each day.

The prospect for an high finish for the Ephs is no doubt helped by the fact they will be playing in the familiar confines of the Taconic, whereas other teams will likely find it hard to adjust to the quick, bentgrass greens they will face at the NCAAs.

“Most of the better teams are coming from the South,” said McCoy, ”and our greens are quite different compared to what they play down there. If our greens have any speed to them, we should have a huge advantage in that aspect. The other teams aren’t used to the breaks they will see, and the speed at which they will break.”

This advantage will likely be balanced out by the timing of the championships, which occur right before final exams. While many of the other schools at the championships will have already finished their exams and have only golf to worry about, most Ephs will have to balance preparing for their finals and competing for the national title.

Despite that concern, Williams is looking forward to a strong finish this weekend and is encouraging students and faculty to come watch the tournament which runs from May 17-20 and is open to the public.