Williamstown, MA- It was deja vu all over again following the conclusion of the 2016 Williams Spring Invitational, featuring a field of eight NESCAC teams and held at par-71 Taconic Golf Club. During the Fall Williams Invitational, Trinity College took home first place and a Trinity freshman grabbed medalist honors. The Bantams repeated this performance in the spring, edging out Middlebury College by one shot after Bantam first year Jack Junge fired a 68 on Sunday. The three under par round was good enough for a six shot individual victory over Middlebury freshman Phillipe Morin, who held the overnight lead.
Conditions eased up on day two after gusting winds on Saturday added an extra element to a course that was already difficult as is. While the wind persisted to a lesser degree, tee boxes on several holes on the back nine were moved up to make the 6,800 yard course play even shorter.
Trinity and Middlebury began the day tied for the lead after both teams combined for a score of 312 on Saturday. Players from both teams battled to gain every stroke on their competitors, and most ended up with nice scores when all was said and done. Junge's 68 was backed up by 78s from senior captain Jeff Durkin as well as freshman Joseph Ladd, who finished in solo fourth place with a two day total of 154. Trinity's young firepower was on display all weekend. Junge won the event with a score of 145 and Ladd contributed with a top five finish as just two of the five Trinity freshmen that made starts for their team this week. Durkin was the only non-freshman in the starting lineup, a frightening thought for their NESCAC competition for years to come.
Middlebury almost matched the talented squad from Trinity, posting a 73 from junior Fitz Bowen and a 74 from sophomore Joe Ko. A 302 team score on Sunday after starting the day tied for the lead would be enough to get the job done on most days, but today was a special day for Junge and Trinity. Rounds in the low 70s are normally heralded to be solid by NESCAC standards, a 68 is a score that deserves the victory it brought to its team.
The Williams College A team finished in third, eight shots back of Trinity's pace. Several Ephs played solid golf on day two, scoring four players in the 70s for the second straight day. Junior Jacob Watt-Morse led the Williams effort to chip away at the two shot edge that Middlebury and Trinity held to start the day. His 73 on day two vaulted him thirteen spots up the leaderboard to place him in a tie for 15th on the weekend. Junior Ross Hoffman shot his second straight sub-80 round, coming in in 77 strokes on day two. The Williams second day score of 307 was rounded out by two seniors, a 78 from Max Elgart and a 79 from Michael Stone.
Williams head coach Josh Hillman said following the conclusion of the tournament, "We got beat by two teams who played really solid golf. I am proud of the way we hung in there, but at the end of the day they made more putts than we did and beat us by a few."
The Willy Invite historically offers a chance to hold tryouts for the spring NESCAC championships that occur the week after. Unfortunately, due to their failure to qualify in the top four at the fall NESCAC championships, this year's Williams Invitational marked the end of the careers of six seniors, Elgart, Michael Stone and his twin brother Greg, captain Francis Worthington, Tong Liu, and Andrew Leary. All six were gifted the opportunity to play their last hole of college golf on their home course. Hillman's view on the perhaps disappointing season for the Ephs was a bit more optimistic: "Looking back at the year I can honestly say we had a really solid year. The guys worked incredibly hard and we have a lot to show for it. Currently we are ranked #1 in the Northeast and have three wins. I feel the team did a fantastic job of staying focused on the process and enjoying the challenge of the sport. I am very proud of the year we had."
The remaining members of the Williams team will look to get back to work on their games this summer to insure that they are never left out of a NESCAC championship again.