Men’s golf falters at NESCACs

Men’s golf suffered a disappointing weekend at home in the NESCAC Championship, finishing in fourth place to miss out on the conference’s NCAA Championship bid. The men struggled to a 312 on Sunday to follow up a 308 on Saturday for a two-day total of 620, while Trinity earned the conference’s automatic bid to next month’s NCAAs with a score of 598. Trinity sophomore Alex Birmingham followed a 68 on Saturday with a 77 on Sunday to take home the individual title by a shot with a two-day total of 145.

“This particular tournament was unlike most Williams efforts in the past, where the second round scores [have been] much better,” Head Coach Rick Pohle said. “We seem to be struggling with consistency and complacency right now and will need to right the ship in the coming years if we are to find success in conference play.”

The Ephs stepped onto the tee late Sunday morning in second place, but a distant 15 shots behind the Bantams, who had posted an incredible score of 293 in perfect conditions on Saturday. The men knew that a dramatic comeback was far from impossible, but that it would take some incredible play considering the level of talent of the Trinity squad.

Unfortunately for the Ephs, there were a few too many bad breaks lurking out on the links for the team to apply any real pressure to the Bantams. Jack Killea ’11, who shot a 154 on the weekend, found some success on Sunday by making birdie on the final two holes to shoot 76. The score is impressive considering Killea’s three iron snapped in half during a swing on the 12th hole, leading to an unfortunate quadruple bogey. Wyatt Sparks ’13 also played solidly on Sunday, shooting 78 – eight shots better than his 86 the day before – for a 164 overall. He too was very close to posting a truly great score but lipped a few too many putts out over the course of the round to go low. Jake Wagner ’11 and Bob Camp ’11 contributed the final two scores to the team’s total for the day, both posting 79s on Sunday as they fell victim to some costly mistakes on the back nine.

Saturday, similarly, was marked by an inability on the Ephs’ part to play to their full potential and capitalize on ideal scoring conditions. Wagner posted a very solid 75, the team’s low score of the day. Jack Ervasti ’13 followed suit with a 76 that featured a strong comeback on the final nine holes. Williams’ efforts unfortunately paled in comparison to those of Trinity, who came inspired to play great golf and had individual rounds of 68, 72 and 73 towards a blistering 293 total.

“We’re obviously pretty disappointed with our play,” Wagner said. “We never considered that finishing in last was a possibility, so we are a little shellshocked right now.”

The men will have to compose themselves in the coming days before heading to Amherst for the Little Three Championship, their final and most emotionally charged event of the year. Williams has captured the last 12 titles and will head to the tee at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning with the goal of continuing its tradition of dominance.

“We are the only team in the conference who will return its top starters next year, and there is something to be said for that, but for now, winning on Wednesday is our only goal,” Wagner said.

While Williams is still hoping to receive a bid to the NCAA tournament, expectations are low following last weekend’s showing at NESCACS. Next season, however, the men are looking to take the conference by storm: The team will return its entire roster for the 2010-11 season.