Men’s golf earned first place this weekend at the Middlebury Fall Classic, a two-day tournament that took place at the Links Course at Lake Placid Club. At 7100 yards and par-71, the course is one of the longest the team will see this fall.
The men reached the final with a win over Castleton on Saturday afternoon after posting the low team score in the morning to earn the No. 1 seed going into the matches. Middlebury defeated Skidmore in the other semifinal, but the Thoroughbreds bounced back to win the third-place match over the Spartans on Sunday. In the championship, the Ephs and Panthers battled back and forth for all 18 holes with Williams ultimately claiming the title by a score of 4-2.
On Saturday morning, the men shot a four-man score of 295 to claim the top seed heading into the matchplay portion of the contest. Second-place honors went to host Middlebury, which tallied a score of 304. Skidmore shot 313 to take third place and Castleton was fourth with a team total of 324.
Will Kannegieser ’20 and Sam Goldenring ’20 were two key performers who helped secure the top seed for the Ephs going into matchplay. The young duo tied for top honors and shot even-par rounds of 71.
The Ephs’ four scoring players on the day finished in the top seven. Co-captain Grant Raffel ’17.5 shot a 76 to place sixth and Ben Beiers ’20 recorded a 77 to tie for seventh. Giebien Na ’20 carded a 78, and co-captain Jake Foehl ’19 shot an 80 to round out the Ephs’ scoring in the morning.
In the afternoon matches, the men played Castleton in the first semifinal. Five players won their matches, and although Kannegieser fell just short of a victory, he earned a half point for the men while playing in the No. 1 spot. Middlebury defeated Skidmore in the other semifinal.
Head Coach Josh Hillman said he was pleased with the team’s performance. “Saturday was a very good day for us,” he said. “We got off to a nice start to the season shooting a solid 295 round and earning the No. 1 seed. The team is really coming together and it seems as though we have picked up right where we left off last year.”
“I am encouraged by our new additions to the tournament roster [Beiers and Na] and think they did a really solid job today,” he added. “Our seasoned players [Raffel, Foehl, Kannegieser and Goldenring] stepped right up and did what they do best — competed with intensity and max effort.”
On Sunday, six Ephs matched up against six Panthers in the championship match. Foehl played in the No. 6 spot and dispatched Middlebury senior Joseph Ko in a five-and-four win. Foehl was three up through 12 before going birdie-par to close it out.
Playing in the No. 2 slot against Middlebury junior Jeffrey Giguere, Kannegieser was two down at the turn to before winning holes 11, 12 and 14 to turn that deficit into a one up lead. Kannegieser then rolled in a difficult 15-foot birdie putt on 16 to go two up, and the match was over after both players made par on 17.
Beiers, playing as the No. 4 man for the Ephs, closed out his match with a birdie on the long par-5 15th hole.
The fourth point for the Ephs came from Raffel, who was up early in his match against Middlebury’s Graham Kenter before Kenter staged a bit of a comeback. Raffel held steady, however, calmly concluding his match on the 17th green with a tap-in par.
Goldenring, playing in the No. 1 spot, went back and forth all day with Bennett Doherty. The two were playing fabulous golf, at one point trading birdie putts from inside 10 feet on the par-3 14th hole. The match was all-square going into 17 where Doherty caught a lucky break after hitting his drive in the fescue. Goldenring was less fortunate with a sketchy lie in the fairway and launched his wedge shot long, losing the hole. The two halved 18, and Doherty walked away with the win after taking one less stroke on the day.
The last match of the day, featuring Na against Middlebury’s David Packer, was the most volatile. Packer had control for most of the match, but Na used birdies to keep himself in contention. Unfortunately, he could not quite pull himself all the way out and eventually lost on the 17th green.
“Last weekend was a total team effort,” Hillman said. “It’s not often that we get to play a full matchplay tournament with seeding and matches to follow. This type of format creates a situation where all team members need to play well in order to win. Our guys did that.”
On Saturday, the men will travel to the Ralph Myhre Golf Club in Middlebury, Vt., to compete in the two-day Duke Nelson tournament.