The triumphant men’s golf team will be headed to Atlanta next month for some sun, fun and most importantly, the NCAA Div. III national championship. Last week the men earned their spot in the national tournament by both winning their 11th consecutive Little Three title and claiming the NESCAC crown.
Williams hosted the Little Three championship last Wednesday at Taconic Golf Club. The Ryder Cup style tournament featured two different match-play formats: 18 holes of alternate shot matches in the morning and 18 holes of singles matches in the afternoon. The Ephs dominated the competition, winning 11 and a half out of a possible 12 points against Wesleyan and 11 out of 12 against Amherst.
“Personally, I think the match we played last weekend at Middlebury had a big part in the dominance of this match,” Head Coach Rick Pohle said. “It gave our young freshmen a taste of match play and what to expect from this sort of competition.”
The disappointment from the previous weekend’s Colonial Cup at Middlebury was eliminated by the Little Three title, providing the team with a great deal of confidence entering the NESCAC tournament last weekend.
The NESCAC championship, hosted by Trinity, was contested at Shuttle Meadow CC in Kensington, Conn. A win would ensure Williams automatic qualification for the NCAA Div. III championship.
The team played exceptionally well on day one, posting a total score of 291, good enough for a 12-shot lead going into the final round. Drew Murray ’11 led the Ephs on the first day, posting a one-under par 70. Scores of 71, 73 and 77, by Jack Killea ’11, Matt Felser ’09 and Jake Wagner ’11, respectively, rounded out the rest of the scoring. The 291 score is the Ephs’ lowest single day total since shooting a 289 in the spring of 2005.
“The Trinity coach told us where the range was in his tighty-whities before our round on Saturday, so we knew it was going to be a good day,” said Felser.
The Ephs continued to play inspired golf the second day, firing a final round 299 for a total score of 590 and 13-shot victory over Hamilton. “We knew going into Sunday that a 12-shot lead really wasn’t a whole lot when spread out over four scores, so we knew we had to really grind and post some more good numbers,” Felser said.
The team performed strongly, with all five members of the squad shooting in the 70s: Felser (74), Killea (74), Murray (75), Wagner (76) and co-captain Brendan Conley ’08 (76). First-years Killea and Murray tied for second place as individuals with total scores of 145 and Felser placed in fourth with a 147.
With automatic qualification secured, the team can begin to prepare for their upcoming trip down south. Emory University is hosting the NCAA Div. III championship on May 13 through 16 at the Chateau Elan Resort in Atlanta, Ga.
“We packed the scuba gear this weekend and really took it deep out there,” Felser said. “We’re not done yet though, we’re going to the national championship with the mind-set of competing, and not just showing up for a school paid vacation.”