Men’s golf wrapped up its competitive fall season with a dual-match victory over Amherst at the Taconic Golf Club last weekend in the first annual Mountain-Valley Challenge, winning by a 15.5 to 9.5 margin. The Ephs’ victory came after the men claimed second place at the Hamilton Invitational on Oct. 8 and 9.
Last Saturday, five pairs of players from Williams and Amherst competed against each other in two nine-hole matches, with each victory counting for one point in the scoring system. The morning nine was played alternate shot. In alternate shot, pairs take turns playing the same ball, with each member alternating teeing off. The back nine was played as two-man best ball, a format in which each member of a pair plays the hole individually and the lowest score from the pair is recorded.
Saturday’s sunny start quickly yielded to an afternoon of wind and sporadic rain, creating difficult scoring conditions. Captain Chris Valle ’12 and Wyatt Sparks ’13 provided a spark in the first match, claiming wins on the front and back nine to contribute two points for the men. The junior tandem of Alexander Xu ’13 and Hrishi Srinagesh ’13 claimed two wins as well. The sophomore pairing of Ross Bowen ’14 and Matt McCarron ’14 and the pair of Jake Abrahams ’14 and Siwol Chang ’12 each scored one point for the men. Jonathan Dely ’15 and Nate McCue ’15 lost in two tight matches. The Ephs finished Day One leading Amherst 6-4.
Head Coach Rick Pohle was pleased with the first round effort. “Everyone agreed that the nine-hole match format was a bit difficult once you got behind, as there was little time to get back into the match,” he said. “All things considered, I think we did all right. We had the opportunity to play a few new faces and allowed a number of other veterans to ease back into competition.”
The format of the event switched on Sunday. On the front nine, the schools competed in a two-man scramble, in which both players play every shot and select the better of the two after each shot until the hole is completed. The teams then competed in 10 singles matches on the back nine.
The team of Sparks and Xu built on its momentum from Saturday: The pair won their scramble match and both Ephs won their singles matches. Chang and Valle halved their scramble match, but both won their singles matches. Abrahams and Dylan Dethier ’14 halved their scramble and earned a win and a half, respectively, in their singles matches. Bowen and McCarron combined to earn 1.5 points, while Cody Semmelrock ’14 and rookie Jake Goldenring ’15 netted one point. The men’s final total was 15.5 points, edging Amherst, who scored 9.5 points.
“Everyone seemed to enjoy the variety of competitions over the two days,” Pohle said after Sunday’s round. “I was happy to watch the intensity of the matches and the way we handled a number of challenging circumstances.”
The men’s win came on the heels of the Hamilton Invitational on Oct. 8 and 9, where the team claimed second in the 16-team field.
Williams charged out to an opening round tally of 299 that put them six shots clear of the field. Semmelrock’s 73, Bowen’s 74 and Dethier’s 75 led the Day One surge.
However, Manhattanville turned in a strong Day Two performance as Williams faded. Dethier managed a 74 to work his way into the top five, but the Ephs’ scores fell off after that. Abrahams had a Day-Two 78, followed by 79s from Semmelrock and Bowen. The men carded a disappointing 310 on Day Two, giving them a two-day total of 609. Manhattanville fired a 300 on Day Two to win the invitational by four strokes with a tournament total of 605.
Last weekend’s play concluded a strong fall season for Williams, in which the men fielded an untested squad of four sophomores and a rookie in nearly every tournament. The young core of Ephs went undefeated against NESCAC competition this fall.
“I thought it was a very impressive season for a team that had a lot of unanswered questions in early September,” Pohle said.
The Ephs have several months off before turning their attention to the spring competitive season, in which they will aim to qualify for the national championship.