Sam Goldenring ’20 leads men’s golf to Spring Invitational victory

Men’s golf successfully defended its home course last weekend, winning the 2017 Williams Spring Invitational.

Scoring conditions could not have been better on Saturday, and the par-71 Taconic Golf Club was in fantastic shape after opening only two weeks ago. The scoreboard after the first round reflected the soft, fair conditions, boasting two rounds in the 60s and several scores under 75. Williams took the lead with a first-round total team score of 289, followed closely by Middlebury at 290 and Trinity at 294.

It comes as no surprise that the two teams in front both counted a score in the 60s. Middlebury’s Reid Buzby came in with 69 while Sam Goldenring ’20, playing in the same group as Buzby, carded a bogey-free 68 to claim a one-shot lead heading into round two. Trinity’s Will Rosenfeld was next on the leaderboard with an even par round of 71 while teammate Kole Kelly followed closely with a 72.

The format for the tournament was slightly unusual because the event took the best four scores out of six players, instead of the typical five. The change was instituted to help coaches set their lineups for the NESCAC Championships this coming weekend. This year, the Championship will also be played at Taconic, making the first round just a preview of the quality of golf that the course will see over the next eight days.

The Ephs had all six players come in under 80 on Day One. Will Kannegieser ’20 attempted to keep pace with Goldenring but came up a few shots short, rolling in a birdie on 18 to finish with 73. The Ephs took two 74s to round out their scoring, as Jake Foehl ’19, tri-captain Grant Raffel ’17 and tri-captain Ross Hoffman ’17 all came in at that number. Tri-captain Jacob Watt-Morse ’17 finished slightly behind with an opening round 77.

The men stood in first with 289 points at the end of Day One, just ahead of Middlebury (290) and Trinity (294). 

The Ephs also had three individuals playing in the second wave of tee times. Ben Beiers ’20 shot a 78 and was followed closely on the course and on the leaderboard by Will Beischer ’19, who shot a 79. Greg Steinhelper ’17 ran into some trouble early in his back nine that pushed his final shot tally up to 88.

On Sunday, the conditions were once again prime for scoring, and five more rounds under par on Day Two brought the total for the weekend to seven, with five players breaking 70. 

The Ephs carded two rounds under par and brought their tally down to 288 for the second round and 577 for the weekend. Trinity remained south of 300 on Sunday as well, posting a 295 that put them at 589 for the weekend, good enough for a second-place finish. Middlebury had five players break 80 during round two. However, on a day when several competitors were under par, counting a score in the high 70s actually set a team back. The Panthers came in with 303 on Sunday to place in third at 593.

Buzby led Middlebury’s charge, firing a 72 to finish at one-under for the tournament and T-3 individually.

Trinity’s run to second place was spearheaded by Kelly, who had it rolling early and continued that momentum on his way to shooting a three-under 68.

Of all the great scores on the leaderboard, none came close to matching Goldenring, who followed up his bogey-free 68 on Day One with a bogey-free 70 on Sunday, finishing with a total of 138 and a two-shot victory over Kelly. Goldenring did not even lead his team on Sunday; that honor went to Watt-Morse, who posted a 69.

Raffel likewise had a solid round of 72, and the Ephs scorers were rounded out by a 77 from Foehl. Hoffman and Kannegieser recorded matching 78s on Day Two. No Williams player finished outside the top 15 individually; Watt-Morse finished T-6 (146), Raffel T-6 (146), Kannegieser T-11 (151), Foehl T-11 (151) and Hoffman T-14 (152).

Three individuals also hit the links for the Ephs. Beiers got off to a shaky start but steadied himself on his way to mirroring his first round score with another 78 that placed him in a tie for 20th. Beischer finished his tournament with an 82 on Sunday, and Steinhelper shot an 86 to cap his Williams golf career.

Head Coach Josh Hillman said he was impressed with the team’s progress. “I am extremely proud of how much effort the guys have put in the past month,” he said. “All six of the guys played well while our individuals produced some nice numbers.”

Today, Wesleyan and Amherst visit Williamstown again for the Little Three Championships.

Williams, Middlebury, Trinity and Amherst return to Taconic tis weekend to compete in the NESCAC Spring Championships, with a chance to qualify for Nationals.