Men’s golf finished second in the NESCAC NCAA Qualifier last weekend, as they could not overcome a five-shot deficit to Middlebury. The Panthers once again took advantage of their home course to earn their second-straight bid to compete in the NCAA Div. III Championship in May. Middlebury finished with a total of 595, while Williams had a a total of 609. “Unfortunately the weekend did not pan out for us,” co-captain Jake Goldenring ’15 said. “All things considered, we played very well. Our two rounds were exactly what I thought we needed to get the job done heading into the weekend. I know I speak for the whole team when I say that we wish things had turned out in our favor, but we couldn’t have been beaten by a better group of guys.” After Day One, two Middlebury golfers shared the lead along with Goldenring, who once again put together an outstanding performance.
Although Middlebury dominated, Williams was not far behind. Grant Raffel ’17 and co-captain Nate McCue ’17 kept solid pace by posting matching 76s. Ross Hoffman ’17 also finished strong with a 77. Williams sat in second place at the end of Saturday. On Sunday, Middlebury had room to breathe with a 14-shot victory. This superb play helped Middlebury finish each day with a sub-300 team score. The Ephs did not back down without a battle, though. Raffel, the NESCAC Player of the Year, led the charge with an outstanding 72 on Day Two. His final round score earned Raffel sole possession of third with a two-day total of 148. Goldenring ended the weekend with a 152 and added to his brilliant college career with yet another top-five finish, while Hoffman played an impressive tournament with twin 77s. Tong Liu ’16 rounded out the Ephs’ Day Two tally with a 79, giving him a total of 158.
For much of the final round, Williams was neck-and-neck with Middlebury. After all of the groups had finished the front nine, the Ephs were only two shots behind the Panthers for the day and seven shots in total. Williams still fought hard to put pressure on Middlebury late in the back nine. Raffel stuck his approach shot on the 16th hole to two feet; he tapped in for birdie to reach red figures at one-under par. “The team is in good hands and I fully expect the guys to do a lot of winning in future seasons,” Goldenring said. The second-place finish only adds to what has been a very successful spring season for Williams. The Ephs compete today at Little Threes, giving them one last chance to finish the spring season with a win.