Golf | Golf finishes eighth, fails to qualify for NESCACs
Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 01:10
After battling through middling finishes this fall, the golf team came into the NESCAC Championship Qualifier over the weekend needing a substantial improvement in order to make it to the conference’s postseason tournament. But despite several impressive individual performances, the team only managed to finish eighth in a field of 10 at Hickory Ridge Golf Club in Amherst, Mass. Only the top 4 finishing teams go to the NESCAC championships, but the Jumbos’ two-day stroke total was 650, 37 strokes too many to clinch the fourth and last qualifying spot.
Running away with the tournament title was Trinity College, who carded an impressive 304 on Saturday and a scorching 288 on Sunday, finishing with a total of 592, the weekend’s only sub-600 total. Williams College, Hamilton College and Middlebury College followed to complete the list of qualifying teams. With their first place finish, Trinity also wins the right to host the conference championship tournament on April 27-28.
Freshman Jay Wong was the team standout, shooting a 77 and 79 on Saturday and Sunday respectively, finishing as the only Jumbo to shoot under 80 both days of the competition. His efforts left him tied for 19th place overall in the individual standings.
Fellow freshman Brendan Koh had a weekend of extremes. His day-one 86 tied for the Jumbos’ worst Saturday round, but his day-two 77 was the Jumbos’ Sunday best score. Despite the inconsistency, Koh’s 163-stroke total tied for 33rd overall, while the remaining Tufts golfers — freshman Nick Dorian, sophomore John Wawer and senior Ben Saperstein — each finished the weekend with a 167.
Koh’s dramatic improvement over the course of the weekend was reflected in the team’s split-score totals. Their Saturday score of 331 was the day’s second-worst round, only outdone by Wesleyan University’s 349. The Sunday comeback, in which they shot a 319, moved Tufts from ninth to eighth, passing Bates College in the process.
Meanwhile, Trinity sophomore Greg Palmer won individual honors for the weekend with a two-day 147, edging out teammates and fellow sophomores William Burchill and Nick Buenaventura, as well as Middlebury senior William Prince, by one stroke. Palmer also managed the tournament’s best single-day round with a 71, one under par, on Sunday.
“The team showed promise again this past weekend by breaking 320 on the second day,” senior co-captain Michael McCarthy said. “I see everyone improving as the season goes on.”
While there is validity to McCarthy’s claim, the team certainly has some work to do before it can compete with the upper ranks of the NESCAC.
Although the team has some mechanical changes it can work on in practice, one pressing issue it cannot easily fix is the team’s youth. With five freshmen on a roster of 11 golfers, growing pains are to be expected, and a symptom of the Jumbos’ youthfulness has been their propensity to fall well off their pace early in tournaments and not recover.
“We put ourselves behind the eight ball on the first day and unfortunately, that’s what you get,” sophomore co-captain Alex Zorniger said. “I’m still very confident in the ability and potential of this young team.”
The problem of starting slowing is directly related to the youth of the team; a large number of the Tufts players are seeing the tournament courses for the first time. The more experience a golfer has, the quicker he can become comfortable on a new course, and the next few weeks will not provide a respite from the problem, as Tufts will encounter two more unfamiliar courses in their remaining two tournaments.
However, those tournaments, especially the Johnson & Wales Fall Invitational in Cranston, Rhode Island on Oct. 12, will provide an opportunity for the team to bounce back. After taking a weekend off from golfing, the team will be looking to correct the inconsistencies that have plagued the team thus far this season.
“Our main focus is stringing two good days together,” McCarthy said. “If we are able to do that we can compete with anyone.”