Howey-In-The-Hills, FL- After becoming the first NESCAC team to make the cut at the NCAA Championships, the Williams College men's golf team struggled a bit during their third round, dropping from 14th to 16th out of the 18 remaining teams in the field. After splitting the field over two courses for the first two rounds, the rest of the championship is played on one course, in this case the El Campeon course at Mission Inn.
The 6,844 yard par-72 layout was where the Ephs played their first round before moving over to what was the easier course during the first two rounds, Las Colinas. The Ephs shot 314 on El Campeon before firing a 299 as a team that put them inside the cutline at 613. Back on El Campeon for round three, only two Ephs broke 80 en route to a team score of 318 for a three day total of 931.
Wittenberg University climbed up one spot on the leaderboard during the third round to seize the lead heading into Friday with a total of 887 over the first three rounds. Lurking right behind them are Guilford College, Huntingdon College, Texas Tyler, and Greensboro College at 889, 890, 891, and 891 respectively. The way that these five teams are playing it is unlikely that they will allow any other team to sneak up, making it likely that the national champion will be one of these five schools.
Williams began play off the tenth tee this morning. First-year Sam Goldenring, one of the most reliable scorers for head coach Josh Hillman this spring, started out with a birdie on the reachable par-5 10th before dropping two shots with bogeys on 16 and 17. Making the turn at +1, Goldenring made birdie on the 172 yard par-3 2nd to pull even once more. He would go on to make one more birdie along with three bogeys to come in with a 74, the low round on the day for Williams. Unfortunately, the round moved him down the leaderboard to T-22 after climbing as high as T-11 during the round.
Senior captain Ross Hoffman was the other Eph to come in below 80. After starting out with a bogey and six pars through his first seven holes, Hoffman made double-bogey on the par-5 17th, El Campeon's signature hole, and followed it up with a bogey on 18 to turn at +4. Hoffman battled back on the front, balancing three bogeys with birdies on 3 and 7 to finish at +5 (77).
The rest of the Eph's struggled on the challenging course. First-year Will Kannegieser started his round by making double-bogey on 10, one of four doubles for him on the day. He held on as best he could, finishing with a birdie on his final hole for an 83.
Senior captain Grant Raffel was equally perplexed by El Campeon, though he will have one more shot at it tomorrow. Raffel made three doubles and a triple en route to an 84, the fourth and final score of the day for the Ephs.
Senior captain Jacob Watt-Morse aggravated a wrist injury during his round, persevering through the pain to shoot 85.
Williams will have a steep hill to climb during the final round tomorrow, especially after struggling during their first two encounters with El Campeon. Nevertheless, the Ephs showed their ability to bounce back during round two, and it would not come as a shock to see some lower numbers tomorrow.