Men's Golf Set To Host NESCAC Qualifier

September 24, 2008

Defending NESCAC Golf Champion Williams College will begin its quest for an 11th conference title this weekend when the Ephs travel to Middlebury, Vt. for the NESCAC Golf Championship Qualifier. The two-day, 36-hole qualifying event will be hosted by Middlebury College at the Ralph Myhre Golf Course and will feature all 10 conference teams. The first group will tee off on Saturday, Sept. 27, at 11:00 a.m., and the qualifier will conclude on Sunday, Sept. 28 beginning at 10:00 a.m. The top four teams from the weekend will advance to the championship round in the spring, with the top finisher earning the right to host the final rounds.

After finishing third at the 2007 qualifier, a young Williams squad put together a strong showing during the championship at the Shuttle Meadow Country Club in Kensington, Conn. to claim the 2008 NESCAC title. The Ephs' two-day score of 590 was 13 strokes better than both Hamilton and Middlebury, as senior Matt Felser (Buffalo, N.Y.) and sophomores Jack Killea (Ridgefield, Conn.) and Drew Murray (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.) all carding within the top four finishers to lead their team to victory. Although Williams boasts a deep and diverse mix of returning linksmen, head coach Rick Pohle is faced with a quandary in choosing a fivesome for the weekend that will guarantee the Ephs a top four finish and a shot at the significant advantage of hosting the spring championship. During the 25th annual Duke Nelson Invitational at Ralph Myhre on Sept. 13-14 at Middlebury, Williams finished 10th out of 22 teams but was behind four other NESCAC programs. This past weekend at the Williams Invitational, a split Ephs squad placed sixth and ninth out of 20 teams with Felser posting the top finish among his teammates with a 146 (+4), good enough for a two-way tie for second.

Looking to put the advantage of playing at Ralph Myhre to good use this weekend will be host Middlebury. The Panthers came up short in their quest for a second-straight NESCAC crown and third overall (1999) last season, placing second at the 2007 qualifier and finishing in third with a tiebreaker loss to Hamilton in the championship rounds. Middlebury heads into the weekend with the momentum of an impressive second-place performance at the Williams Invitational, as the Panthers lost in a playoff round to Skidmore for the title. Senior Harrison Bane (Marblehead, Mass.), a three-time NESCAC All-Conference First Team member and the 2005 Rookie of the Year, earned medalist honors at the Williams Invitational with a two-day total of 144 (+2). Bane has managed to earn a top four finish at each of the last three fall NESCAC events with a second-place showing in 2005 and again in 2006. Along with Bane, senior Mike McCormick (Oak Park, Ill.) and sophomore Jimmy Levins (Rutland, Vt.) will look to help Middlebury achieve a top-four spot once again. Levins and McCormick had the best scores for the Panthers at the Duke Nelson Invitational, with Levins carding a 152 (+10) and McCormick scoring a 153 (+11) as Middlebury finished fifth.

Trinity has had solid performances at each of the last two fall NESCAC events, missing out on the 2006 conference title via tiebreaker and finishing first at the 2007 qualifier to earn the right to host last year's championship round. At last April's final though, the Bantams had a rough first day score that was 27 strokes off the lead and it proved to be too much to overcome, eventually finishing fourth. Trinity heads into the championship qualifier as one of the hotter teams in the conference at the moment. The Bantams were the top NESCAC team at the Duke Nelson Invitational (606, T-2nd) and came in nine strokes shy of Middlebury at the Williams Invitational (605), finishing fourth. Senior Alec MacColl (Centennial, Colo.) has been steady throughout September for the Bantams, recording a team-leading finish at both the Duke Nelson Invitational (148, +6; T-5th) and at the Williams Invitational (148, +6; T-9th). MacColl has been joined this fall by junior Reid Longley (Atlanta, Ga.), the 2006 NESCAC Player and Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-NESCAC First Team honoree, and sophomore Jay Driscoll (Milton, Mass.) in leading Trinity on the links.

Other teams in the hunt for a top four finish this weekend will include Amherst, Bowdoin and Hamilton. Led by 2007 All-Conference Second Team selection Trip Wray (Walpole, Mass.), the Lord Jeffs placed sixth at the Duke Nelson Invitational and were 13th at the Williams Invitational this past weekend. Wray was the top finisher for Amherst at last fall's qualifier with a two-day total of 153 (T-9th). The Polar Bears have fared well at their competitions, claiming back-to-back second-place showings and finishing no lower than fourth in four events. Junior Ryan Blossom (Concord, N.H.) and senior Jeff Cutter (Medfield, Mass.) have once again paced Bowdoin, after the two turned in All-NESCAC worthy performances at last year's qualifier. The Continentals finished as runners-up to Williams last April and will look to earn a shot at their first NESCAC title since 2003 and fourth overall. Hamilton claimed eighth at the Duke Nelson Invitational earlier this month and was fifth at the Williams Invitational. Returning for the Continentals are 2007 All-NESCAC recipients Jeff Corbett (Stoneham, Mass.) and sophomore Brad Roche (Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y.), the 2007 Rookie of the Year.

The origin of the Ralph Myhre Golf Course traces back to the 1920's, with the construction of the original nine holes taking place before the end of the decade. During the Great Depression the land was mortgaged and the course was not used at all during World War II. After the war, the property was leased to Middlebury College before it was eventually purchased by the college. Ralph Myhre took over management of the course in the 1960's and led the development of the current layout with work commencing in 1974 and finishing in 1978. Located in a scenic setting on rolling terrain adjacent to the Middlebury athletics facilities, the course features fairways that are wide open and small greens that are either elevated or multi-tiered. The back nine was formed around the original nine and demands shot accuracy along with a significant amount of patience. The scorecard for the course, which has a rating of 70.8 and a slope rating of 124, is a par-71 that totals 6,379 yards.

Results for the NESCAC Golf Championship Qualifier will be available at the completion of each day at www.nescac.com.

at Ralph Myhre Golf Course - Hosted by Middlebury

Day One - Saturday, Sept. 27

Wave 1 - Bowdoin, Colby, Williams - 11:00 a.m.
Wave 2 - Trinity, Tufts, Wesleyan - 11:40 a.m.
Wave 3 - Amherst, Bates, Hamilton, Middlebury - 12:20 p.m.

Day Two - Sunday, Sept. 28
Wave 1 - Three teams with Highest Cumulative Score from Day One - 10:00 a.m.
Wave 2 - Next three teams with Highest Cumulative Score from Day One - 10:40 a.m.
Wave 3 - Remaining four teams with Lowest Cumulative Score from Day One - 11:20 a.m.

-- courtesy NESCAC --