Cranston, RI- The Williams College men's golf team came from five shots back at the start of second round action on Sunday to win this year's Johnson and Wales Invitational by six shots with a two-day total of 630.
The event was held at the par-71 Cranston Country Club and saw Endicott College and overnight leader Rhode Island College finish in a tie for second place at 636. Fellow NESCAC competitor Middlebury College lagged behind the pace of the Ephs by eight shots, finishing in fifth place behind Manhattanville College, who snuck ahead of the Panthers with a score of 637. Scoring conditions eased up on day two after gusting wind wreaked havoc on the field of sixteen teams, sending scores into the 90s.
Jonathan Cooper of Rhode Island College took home medalist honors, following up his 72 on day one with a 77 that was good enough for a three shot victory over Greg Martin of Husson University. Austin Teal of Endicott College rounded out the top three on the individual leaderboard with a two day score of 153.
Williams placed three golfers in the top ten and four in the top twenty en route to their victory. The biggest climb up the leaderboard on day two came from junior Jacob Watt-Morse, who fired a brilliant 73 that was one of the lowest numbers on the weekend. The round took Watt-Morse from a tie for 21st position at the start of the day all the way to a tie for fourth when all was said and done. The 73 gave the Ephs the leverage that they needed to close the gap on Rhode Island.
Senior Michael Stone and sophomore Jack Coyne reinforced the efforts of Watt-Morse with a pair of rounds in the 70s on day two that landed them both in a tie for tenth oin the tournament. Stone nearly matched Watt-Morse, requiring just one extra stroke to complete all eighteen holes at Cranston. Stone also charged up the leaderboard, coming from being in a tie for 42nd to finish the top ten. Coyne paired his first day score of 79 with another one, giving the Ephs their third number below 80. Junior Ross Hoffman rounded out the scoring for the Ephs, shooting an 84 on Sunday to back up his 76 on Saturday. While Hoffman fell from 4 to T19 on the leaderboard, he contributed rounds on both days that were key to his team's overall success.
"We had a really solid round today," said Eph head coach Josh Hillman. "We knew it was going to be a close one down the stretch. One area we have been focusing on a lot this year is finishing the last few holes of each round strongly."
"Mike Stone and Jacob Watt-Morse both had really solid tournaments," added Hillman. " Jack Coyne also snuck into the top 10. To have three players in the top 10 in any event is fantastic."
Looking ahead Hillman noted, "This week is a big week. Little 3's Wednesday and our home event this weekend. The guys are playing well and we are looking forward to playing Amherst and Wesleyan head to head in Amherst for the Little 3's."
The win could not have come at a better time for the Ephs, as they built on their second place finish last week at the NYU Invitational and will carry momentum into their final event of the year, the spring installment of the Williams Invitational. Williams will look to win their home tournament for the first time in two years. To do so, they will have to fight off stiff competition from not only their NESCAC counterparts, but also teams from out of conference. The seniors on the Williams team will look to finish their careers in style when play begins next Saturday.