Middlebury

Men's Golf To Vie For NESCAC Title

April 24, 2008

Trinity College, the winner of the NESCAC Fall Qualifier, will look to earn its first conference title in program history this weekend when the Bantams host the 2008 NESCAC Golf Championship. The Bantams will be joined by Hamilton, Middlebury and Williams for the two-day, 36-hole event at the Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington, Conn. The first group will tee off on Saturday, April 26, at 12:15 p.m. with the championship concluding on Sunday, April 27.

The format for the NESCAC Golf Championship has changed for 2007-08. Beginning in 1994, all 10 conference teams competed for the conference crown over one weekend in the fall, and the team with the lowest score earned the championship. This year, the four teams with the lowest score during the fall event have qualified for a championship round to be held during the last weekend in April, with the team that finishes the fall qualifier with the lowest score earning the right to host the two-day spring championship. The team that wins the championship round this weekend will receive the conference's automatic bid to the 2008 NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship in May.

Trinity won the first-ever NESCAC Fall Qualifier last September with a two-day score of 606 at the Skenandoa Golf Club in Clinton, N.Y., seven shots in front of second place and defending NESCAC champion Middlebury. The Bantams had one of the finest fall seasons in program history, winning the Trinity Invitational and the ECAC New England Championship in addition to the NESCAC Fall Qualifier. This spring, Trinity finished sixth out of 14 teams during a rain-shortened UMass Dartmouth Invitational on April 13, earned a dual-match victory over Wesleyan on April 18, and was ninth out of 13 teams at the Sterling Invitational on Tuesday. The Bantams will need strong showings from sophomores Josh Grossman (Great Neck, N.Y.) and Reid Longley (Atlanta, Ga.) if they hope to capture their first NESCAC crown. The tandem earned All-NESCAC First Team recognition for their performances at the Fall Qualifier, as Grossman received NESCAC Player of the Year honors after carding a first place score of 146 while Longley, the 2006 NESCAC Player and Rookie of the Year, was tied for fourth with 150.

Sitting only one stroke behind Trinity after day one at the Fall Qualifier, Middlebury struggled as a team on day two and could not keep up with the Bantams, finishing second with a total of 613. The Panthers hope to regain the magic they had during their title run in 2006, after they shaved a remarkable 18 strokes off their day one score and climbed from a two-way tie for sixth to win their second NESCAC championship (1999) via tie-breaker over Trinity. Middlebury has seen a bit of action already this spring, placing fifth with a score of 644 at the 11-team Palamountain Invitational hosted by Skidmore almost two weeks ago and winning the inaugural Colonial Cup, a Ryder Cup style event, over Williams on Sunday. Junior captain Harrison Bane (Marblehead, Mass.) has been stellar for the Panthers in NESCAC championship matches in the past. The 2005 NESCAC Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Conference First Team member finished tied for fourth at the Fall Qualifier after completing the previous two NESCAC tournaments in second place. Classmate Michael McCormick (Oak Park, Ill.) led Middlebury at the Palamountain, tying for ninth place, and senior George Baumann (Mequon, Wis.) had a strong showing at the Colonial Cup, registering a team-best three points as the Panthers surpassed the Ephs 13-7.

Williams enters the weekend with a balanced team of veteran leadership and skilled rookies looking to capture the program's sixth NESCAC crown this decade and the 10th overall. During the Fall Qualifier, Williams placed third and finished one stroke behind Middlebury on the strength of a day two low score of 305. The Ephs have had multiple opportunities to hone their game this spring, as they will have competed in five separate events before the weekend, including the Little Three Championships on Wednesday. Among some of its spring events, Williams was third at the Palamountain Invitational with a score of 639 and tied for fourth at the one-day WNEC Invitational on April 17. Freshmen Jacob Wagner (Wilmette, Ill.), Robert Camp (Raleigh, N.C.) and John Killea (Ridgefield, Conn.) each received All-NESCAC recognition this year by being among the top finishers at the Fall Qualifier and hope to continue a stellar rookie season this weekend. At the Palamountain Invitational, senior Brendan Conley (Rye, N.Y.) tied for ninth with Wagner to lead the Ephs at the event.

The last team to make the cut at the Fall Qualifier was Hamilton, as the Continentals recorded a two-day score of 616. Hamilton has enjoyed a successful spring campaign, recording the highest finish by any NESCAC team at the Palamountain Invitational (2nd, 632) and also completing the five-team Delhi Invitational in second this past weekend (612). Leading the way for the Continentals has been freshman Brad Roche (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.), the 2007-08 NESCAC Rookie of the Year and an All-NESCAC First Team member. Roche fired a two-day total of 148 at the Fall Qualifier, finishing two strokes back of Trinity's Grossman, and has been the top linksman for Hamilton this spring after tying for fifth at the Palamountain Invitational (154) and was sixth at the Delhi Invitational (148). Roche will team up with juniors Dave Christie (New Canaan, Conn.) and Jeffrey Corbett (Stoneham, Mass.) in an effort to win the Continentals' first NESCAC championship since 2003.

Founded by a group of local industrialists in 1917, the Shuttle Meadow Country Club is located less than 15 miles southwest of downtown Hartford in Kensington, Conn. The 18-hole course was designed by Willie Park, Jr., a two-time British Open Champion (1887, 1889) and renowned Scottish architect with over 170 designs to his credit throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. The course puts shot accuracy at a premium, featuring relatively flat fairways with greens that are undulating and fast. The scorecard for the course, which has a rating of 70.4 and a slope rating of 122, is a par-71 that totals 6,260 yards. Results for the 2008 NESCAC Golf Championship will be available at the completion of each day at www.nescac.com.

--courtesy NESCAC--