Men's Golf Headed To NCAA Tourney

May 12, 2014

The Middlebury College men’s golf team will makes its fifth NCAA Tournament appearance in eight years after capturing its sixth NESCAC Championship this spring. The event will take place from May 13-16, at Grandover Resort, in Greensboro, North Carolina and will be hosted by Guilford and the Greensboro Sports Commission. Forty teams will compete along with five additional individuals. The top teams will advance to the third and fourth rounds.

Middlebury previously appeared in the NCAA Tournament in ’07, ’09, ’11 and ‘12. The Panthers have not made the cut in their first four appearances, but will look to do so this spring.

Middlebury is enjoying, what may be considered, the best season in school history. The Panthers won their first two matches of the fall, capturing the Bowdoin Invitational as well as its own 22-team Duke Nelson Tournament. Two weeks later, Middlebury dominated the NESCAC Qualifier at Bowdoin, winning the event by 17 strokes. After winning the ECAC Championship in October, Middlebury returned to action in the spring with second-place efforts at NYU and Williams.

On April 26th, Middlebury won its third NESCAC Championship in the last four years, holding off a day-two charge by Williams to take the title with a 625. The victory earned the team an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship event.

Representing the team at the NCAA’s will be senior Rob Donahoe (Canton, Mass.), juniors Charles Garcia (Garden City, N.Y.), Eric Laorr (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and John Louie (Salinas, Calif.), along with first-year player Fitz Bowen (Kenilworth, Ill.).

A three-time All-NESCAC selection, Donahoe paces the team with a 74.6 average this season. He earned medalist honors at the Duke Nelson Tournament, while placing second at both the NESCAC Qualifier and ECAC Championship. He shot a season-best 68 on day one at the Duke Nelson Tourney.

Bowen earned second-team All-NESCAC honors this fall with a ninth-place finish at the NESCAC Qualifier. He has an average of 76 on the year, with a season-best 72 on day one of the NESCAC Championship. He followed that up with a 77 to win medalist honors at the event.

Also owning a 76 average is Garcia, who has played in the last three events this spring. He shot a season-low 72 on day two at the NYU Invitational to finish in fifth place overall. Garcia finished in a sixth-place tie at the NESCAC Championship, owning a 75 on day one.

NESCAC Player of the Year John Louie fired a 70 and 75 this fall at Bowdoin to win medalist honors at the NESCAC Qualifier. The first-team All-NESCAC selection has a 76 average this season, tying for third at the NYU Invitational, including a 69 on day two.

Laorr, a second-team All-NESCAC selection last fall, owns an average of 78.1. He tied for ninth at the NESCAC Qualifier with a 154, shooting a season-best 73 in his opening round of the season at the Bowdoin Invitational.

NESCAC Coach of the Year Bill Beaney is in his 20th season as head coach of the Panther men's golf team. His strong coaching abilities have developed the Middlebury golf team into one of the top teams in the region.

After leading the men’s team to the NESCAC title in ‘99, Beaney continued to improve the program as they enjoyed a great season in ‘02. The team captured its second NESCAC Championship as well as two other tournaments during the season. In ‘06-‘07, the Panthers won their third NESCAC crown and made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers repeated the feat in ‘08-‘09, earning the NESCAC title and an NCAA bid. 

The team returned to the NCAA's in ‘10-‘11, after hosting and capturing its fourth NESCAC title. Two years ago, the Panthers won their fifth NESCAC crown, advancing to the NCAA’s.

Beaney also uses the resources of Jim Dayton, the golf pro at Ralph Myhre. Dayton began to assist the program in the spring of 1998. A Middlebury native, Dayton is a member of the PGA. He has held Head Professional positions in Idaho, Utah and California before returning to Middlebury and has been influential in helping the team return to top form. 

A total of 210 participants will compete at the 2014 championships. Thirty-one conferences were awarded an automatic qualification for the championships. Three teams were selected from Pool B, which consists of independent institutions, and institutions that are members of conferences that do not meet the requirements for automatic qualification. The final seven berths were reserved for Pool C, which are institutions from automatic-qualifying conferences that are not the conference champion and any remaining Pool B teams. The top five individuals are selected from the remaining players who have not qualified with a team.