The NESCAC Fall Qualifying Tournament for men’s golf came to a dramatic conclusion on Sunday at par-71 Taconic Golf Club. Middlebury finished the job that they began on Saturday, qualifying for the NESCAC championship in the spring and ensuring that they will play host at Ralph Myhre Golf Course for the third year in a row. Williams bounced back in a big way from a discouraging team score of 323 on Day One, posting a 307 that was just shy of earning them the final spot at the NESCAC Championship in the spring.
Day One of the tournament proved quite difficult for the men. Middlebury eagerly stormed into the lead. All four scoring players from Middlebury were in the top five individually after Day One, including three first-years.
An uncharacteristically poor performance for the Ephs forced them to scramble to qualify for the spring tournament on Sunday. Michael Stone ’16 was the only Eph to finish Day One with a round under 80, shooting a 77 that put him in a tie for ninth overall. Stone got off to a fast start, making birdie on holes three and five that were part of a first-nine score of 36. A four-putt on the par-4 twelfth hole was really the only blemish on a scorecard that demonstrated Stone’s experience and ability to play well under pressure.
Tyler Tsay ’19 found himself in trouble early in his first round when he missed the third green and then proceeded to three-putt. On the very next hole, his approach shot rolled off the front of the green. From there, misplayed chip shots led to a double bogey that meant a combined score of five over par on that two-hole stretch.
Jacob Watt-Morse ’17 also struggled with the par-4 fourth hole when his approach also missed short. Five short game shots later, he walked to the fifth tee with a seven on the previous hole. That, combined with a score of eight on number twelve, left Watt-Morse out of the top four for the Ephs. Jack Coyne ’18, playing in the No. 1 spot for Williams, recorded a number in the 80s for the first time this season. Ross Hoffman ’17 swallowed a couple of double bogeys as well, making the turn at seven over par. Hoffman steadied himself on the back nine, but still shot an unusual score of 82, a number that was popular for Williams on the day, with Tsay and Coyne also recording the same score.
On Day Two, Middlebury added a score of 305 to its impressive first-round score of 300 to finish at 605 for the tournament, twelve strokes better than Trinity. The rest of the field lagged behind the pace of the Panthers, who managed to finish with three players in the top ten, including the runner-up and overall champion. Four rounds in the 70s was simply not good enough for the Ephs on Day Two. The Ephs were a visibly more confident team on a day when the weather in Williamstown was similar to the conditions they have been playing under all fall. The cold and windy conditions of Saturday led to several misplayed and costly shots from Williams. On Sunday, all members of the Williams team were taking dead aim at flagsticks and giving each putt their full attention, knowing that even the shortest shots could make a huge difference.
Hoffman posted the lowest score for the Ephs on the day, recovering from a slow start to finish with a 75. Hoffman began his Sunday three over par after the first four holes. A birdie on the par-3 ninth and a tough birdie on the 470-yard par-4 eleventh added two much needed circles to his scorecard. Tsay did his best to add to the Eph comeback, recording a 76 that was six shots better than his first round. Coyne and Watt-Morse each posted 78 on Day Two to round out the scoring.
In all, 630 shots were required for the men to maneuver their way around Taconic, two more than either Hamilton or Amherst. Over the course of a golf tournament, those two shots could be attributed to missed putts or shots that simply could have been better. Regardless of how it happened, the Ephs will have to wait a full year before they get a chance to redeem themselves. According to NESCAC.com, this is the first year in which Williams has failed to qualify for NESCACs since they began to keep an online archive in 2001.
The men are saddened by the tournament result. “Definitely a really disappointing result, but we’re going to work hard over the winter to improve our games and have a great spring,” Co-captain Frank Worthington ’16 said.
The men next compete in the ECACs at The Ranch in Southwick, Mass., this Saturday and Sunday.