Men’s golf could not overcome its first round struggles on day two of the Duke Nelson Invitational hosted by Middlebury.
“We did not have our best weekend at Middlebury and we are already working hard to improve on the problems that we had last weekend. My team is strong and to be honest just had a bad day the first day. I expect with the hard work we will put in this week at practice and hosting our event at home this weekend we will produce a good bounce back and get right back on track,” Head Coach Josh Hillman said.
The Ephs came into the week as defending champions after beating the field at last year’s installment of the Duke Nelson. This year, “The Ralph” got the better of the Williams golfers, who finished outside the top 10 in a tie for 13th place out of the 22 teams competing. Skidmore College took home the title this year after coming in with team scores below 300 during both rounds of the tournament. The host Panthers also combined for a sub-600 score, but were forced to settle for second place with a two-day total of 591, three shots back of Skidmore’s 588. Trinity rounded out the top three, following a mediocre first round performance with a score of 295 on Sunday.
Skidmore and Middlebury snagged the top two individual spots as well. Skidmore’s Mackenzie Nelson backed up his first round score of 70 with a 71 to secure medalist honors by two shots over Middlebury’s Phillippe Morin. Teammates from both schools were not too far behind the pace set by the leaders, as each team placed two more golfers in the top 20 overall. Middlebury made the most of its home course advantage as all five Panthers tallied scores in the 70s on day two.
The Ephs shook off a truly lackluster performance on day one to card all four scorers in the 70s during the second round. Despite this turnaround, the highest finisher for the men on the weekend, Sam Goldenring ’20, was the only Eph to crack the top 50 in 42nd place. Goldenring recovered from an 81 on Saturday, shooting a 75 on Sunday. Three of his teammates came in at 77 to round out the scoring. Tri-captains Ross Hoffman ’17, Grant Raffel ’18 and Jacob Watt-Morse ’17 all posted matching numbers on both days that placed them in a tie for 60th. Tyler Tsay ’19, playing the tournament as an individual, tied Goldenring after shooting a 75 on day two as well.
The men of the NESCAC will be back on the course in two weeks to battle for the honor of appearing in the NESCAC championship when spring rolls around. The top four teams from the fall tournament play in the spring championship, with the winner earning the extra perk of hosting. Williams was left out of the spring championships last year and, with its scores from this weekend, would have barely edged out Tufts in a tiebreaker for the last spot in the championships.
The men, who for the past ten years had been a fixture in the championship tournament, now face stiff competition from their peer schools. Middlebury will be defending its home course and has already proven capable of doing just that. Trinity has now outpaced Williams by 20 shots in the past two tournaments. Amherst, whose roster boasts seven first-years, sent an all first-year lineup to Middlebury this weekend for them to gain the necessary experience on the course in preparation for the fall championships. If Williams plans to mark down the spring championships on their calendar, a better performance at the Ralph Myhre Golf Course may be required in two weeks time.
The men will look to get things back on track when the field comes to visit Taconic for the Williams Invitational this weekend.