Final Rounds of Golf Championship Take Place This Weekend
Ephs Eye First Conference Crown Since 2008
HADLEY, Mass. – Williams College will look to reach the pinnacle of the conference once again when the Ephs host the 2012 NESCAC Golf Championship this weekend at the Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, Mass.
Williams will be joined by Hamilton, Trinity, and defending champion Middlebury at Taconic, as the four familiar foes will come together for a shot at the NESCAC title. Teams will tee off on Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29 beginning at 11:00 a.m.
The Ephs highlighted one of the best all-around Fall Qualifier rounds since the current tournament format was adopted in 2007 this past October at Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, Conn. Williams stormed out to an 8-stroke lead with an impressive total of 290 on a damp and dreary day one at Lyman. Inconsistent performances had doomed the Ephs on day two at NESCAC events in recent years, but this time around there was no letdown as they finished with a 296 on day two and held off a hard-charging Trinity team to earn spring hosting honors by two strokes. The strong showing for Williams earned its linksmen a rare reward, as all five received All-NESCAC honors in some fashion following the match.
Depth has always been a key component for Williams, and this year's Ephs are a youthful group with plenty of skill. During the Fall Qualifier, rookie Jake Goldenring (Florham Park, N.J.) paced his squad with a two-over score of 146, good enough for fourth among the field of 50. Not far behind were the sophomore tandem of Dylan Dethier (Williamstown, Mass.) and Matt McCarron (Portland, Ore.), as the two were one stroke back of Goldenring in a four-way tie for sixth. The 10-time conference-champion Ephs head into the weekend with a bit of momentum following a first place finish during a spring invitational at Taconic last week that included all four teams vying for the NESCAC crown. Dethier came away with individual honors for the first time in his career, shooting a 151 (+9) in less-than-ideal conditions and taking medalist honors, as Williams beat Middlebury by seven strokes. Classmate Jake Abrahams (Los Angeles, Calif.) also performed well at the invitational, finishing fifth overall with a score of 155 (+13).
Although Williams will have the advantage of playing at home, defending champion Middlebury will be the team to beat this weekend. Three of the Panthers' four NESCAC titles have come in the past five years, notably out-distancing themselves from the field last spring by 19 strokes in a dominating performance. At the 2011 Fall Qualifier, Middlebury sat in fourth place with a score of 303 following day one, two strokes back of Amherst and one stroke ahead of Colby and Hamilton. There was little doubt after day two, though, that the Panthers belonged in the spring round, as once again Middlebury turned in a stellar Sunday performance by shaving 12 strokes off its Saturday total to take third overall at Lyman, just six back of Williams. Heading up the Panthers at the Fall Qualifier were junior William Prince (New Canaan, Conn.), who returned to the clubhouse tied for sixth with a 147 (+3), and sophomore Rob Donahoe (Caton, Mass.), who came in one stroke back of Prince in 10th. The duo helped Middlebury place second at Williams' spring invitational last weekend and were joined by a young group that included sophomores Max Alley (Albany, N.Y.) and Chris Atwood (Rochester, N.H.) along with rookie Eric Laorr (Eden Prairie, Minn.).
In search of a second NESCAC championship this weekend will be Trinity. The Bantams have risen to the level of perennial title contenders in recent years, and after a string of runner-up finishes they finally earned the program's first conference crown in 2010 at Taconic with a 16-stroke victory over Middlebury. Like the rest of the field, the Bantams had a hard time keeping up with the Panthers at last spring's championship yet still had a strong showing with a second place performance. At the Fall Qualifier, Trinity joined Williams as the only programs to put together back-to-back sub-300 days, carding a 298 following Saturday's round before matching the Ephs' tournament-low day one score with a 290 on Sunday. Leading the way for the Bantams at Lyman was the impressive play of Jack Palley (Pelham, Mass.) and freshman Nick Buenaventura (Weston, Mass.). Palley carded carbon-copy rounds of 71 to finish with a two-under total of 142. The performance earned Palley NESCAC Player of the Year honors, the fifth Trinity player to win the honor in the past seven years. Buenaventura came within one stroke of tying his teammate, as his day two total of 69 (-3) garnered him NESCAC Rookie of the Year. The two were in action this past weekend for the Bantams at the Williams spring invitational, helping their squad to a two-way tie for fourth.
After missing the cut for the championship round last season, Hamilton is back this weekend looking to earn its fourth NESCAC title. Tied for fifth with Colby at 304 and just one stroke back of fourth-place Middlebury following day one at the Fall Qualifier, the Continentals made sure they wouldn't be absent from the spring rounds for the second year in a row and put together a solid day two showing of 296 for an even total of 600, 14 strokes behind Williams. Sophomore Greg Scott (New Haven, Vt.) led the charge for the Continentals last October, as he tied Trinity's Buenaventura day two low score of 69 and finished fourth with Williams' Goldenring at 146 (+2) to earn All-NESCAC First Team honors. Scott proved that he will be one to watch this weekend at Taconic after coming in tied for third at 153 (+11) during the Williams spring invitational just days ago. Joining Scott in helping Hamilton towards its first conference championship since 2003 will be classmate Carter White (Thornton, N.H.) and freshman Dhanika De Silva (Colombo, Sri Lanka), two of the top finishers for the Continentals this past weekend at Williams.
Nestled in the Berkshire region of Western Massachusetts, the Taconic Golf Club traces its beginnings to 1896, when three men with three tomato cans began the formation of what is today rated as one of the top collegiate courses in the country. A combination of land gifts to Williams in 1927 provided the space for the course and Wayne Stiles of Stiles & Van Kleek was commissioned to design and construct an 18 hole course. Construction was completed under the supervision of Richard Baxter, the club professional and greenskeeper at the time, by Labor Day in 1928. The course was revised in 1955 and underwent a major renovation during the summer of 2009. The par-71, 6,808-yard course, which has a rating of 71.7 and a slope rating of 127, hosted the NESCAC Golf Championship every other year from 1999 until 2005, alternating with the Ralph Myhre Golf Course, and served as the site for the 1999 NCAA Division III Golf Championship.
Results for the NESCAC Golf Championship will be available at the completion of each day at www.nescac.com.