Men’s golf came from five shots back at the start of second round action last Sunday to win this year’s Johnson and Wales Invitational by six shots with a two-day total of 630.
The event was held at the par-71 Cranston Country Club in Burlingame, R.I. and saw Endicott and overnight leader Rhode Island College finish in a tie for second place at 636. Fellow NESCAC competitor Middlebury lagged behind Williams by eight shots, finishing in fifth place behind Manhattanville, who snuck ahead with a score of 637. Scoring conditions eased up on day two after gusting wind wreaked havoc on the field of 16 teams, sending scores into the 90s for many players and making it difficult to shoot any rounds which approached par.
Jonathan Cooper of Rhode Island College took home medalist honors, following up his 72 on day one with a 77 that was good enough for a three-shot victory over Greg Martin of Husson University, who carded a two-round total of 152 strokes. Austin Teal of Endicott rounded out the top three on the individual leaderboard with a two-day score of 153.
Williams placed three golfers in the top 10 and four in the top 20 en route to victory. The biggest climb up the leaderboard on day two came from Jacob Watt-Morse ’17, who fired a brilliant 73 that was one of the lowest scores carded on the weekend. The round took Watt-Morse from a tie for 21st place at the start of the day all the way to a tie for fourth at the end. The 73 gave Williams the leverage that it needed to close the gap on Rhode Island.
Michael Stone ’16 and Jack Coyne ’18 reinforced the efforts of Watt-Morse with a pair of rounds in the 70s on day two that landed them both in a tie for 10th in the tournament. Stone nearly matched Watt-Morse, requiring just one extra stroke to complete all 18 holes at Cranston. Stone also charged up the leaderboard, coming from being in a tie for 42nd to finish inside the top 10 for individual scoring.
Coyne paired his first day score of 79 with an equivalent final round score, turning in another solid performance after placing as the Ephs’ top finisher last weekend. The finish by Coyne proved important for the team, as it gave the Ephs their third round below 80. Ross Hoffman ’17 rounded out the scoring for the Ephs, shooting an 84 on Sunday to back up his 76 on Saturday. While Hoffman fell from fourth to tied for 19th on the leaderboard, he contributed rounds on both days that were key to his team’s overall success.
On Saturday, the blustery conditions led to high-scoring rounds for two Eph teammates, Tong Liu ’16 and individual competitor Max Elgart ’16.
“We had a really solid week and the team has been playing good golf in tough conditions,” Head Coach Josh Hillman said. “Next up is the Little Three Championship at Amherst this Wednesday. This is a very important event to all teams and one we take very seriously.”
“The team is feeling good about our home tournament this weekend, especially after the big victory on the road last weekend at the Johnson and Wales Invitational. We’re looking for more low scores this weekend and another Ephs victory,” co-captain Frank Worthington ’16 said.
The win could not have come at a better time for the Ephs, as they built on their second place finish the previous week at the NYU Invitation. Going forward, the team carries momentum into its final event of the year: the spring installment of the Williams Invitational next weekend. Williams will look to win its home tournament for the first time in two years. To do so, the Ephs will have to fight off stiff competition not only from their NESCAC conference competitors, but also from out-of-conference teams, who will look to post low scores. The tournament will be held at Taconic Golf Club and rounds will begin on Saturday.