Middlebury, VT- Saturday marked the beginning of the NESCAC football season, which was evident to any player at the 2017 Duke Nelson Invitational, as screams emanating from the home crowd at the Middlebury v. Wesleyan football game could be heard on every corner of the course. The Duke Nelson Tournament is held at the Ralph Myhre Golf Course, adjacent to the football field on the Middlebury campus. With greens in good condition on top of the perfect weather, the par-71 track featured good scoring conditions, which was reflected on the leaderboard after the first round.
The Ephs got off to a solid start on day one, posting a clubhouse leading team score of 287. Following hot on their heels are the Babson College Beavers, posting a team score of 289. Rounding out the top-5 teams were Trinity College, Western New England University, and Tufts University with scores of 290, 291, and 296 respectively. There are 22 teams in the field.
The Williams roster, similar to the way it was last year, can be described as a mixture of young and old, with all members contributing solid scores during their first round. Three sophomores teed it up on Saturday: Sam Goldenring, Will Kannegieser, and Ben Beiers. Goldenring and Kannegieser were fixtures of the Williams lineup during their freshman year and had experience on "The Ralph" as it is affectionately known. Beiers was playing there for the first time, but managed the course like a seasoned pro, making no score worse than bogey on his way to a 77.
Goldenring and Kannegieser used their knowledge of the course to post rounds of 72 and 71 respectively.
The age of the Williams roster rests almost completely in the game of senior captain Grant Raffel, who matched Kannegieser at even par. Raffel was pleased with his team's performance but knows there is a long way to go, saying after the round, "We had a very solid day today. It was good to see everyone take advantage of the great weather to post some nice scores. We all have a couple things we can do better tomorrow so we're looking forward to getting back out there in the morning."
The only other healthy upperclassman currently on campus, junior captain Jake Foehl, lagged slightly behind with a round of 73.
The most impressive performance of the day came from first year Beau David, playing the tournament as an individual. David, who hails from Lafeyette, Louisiana, carded a score of 1-under par 70 to tie for the individual lead with two other players. Foehl and David were also playing at The Ralph for the first time.
Williams head coach Josh Hillman was pleased with his team's performance, especially with the sharp decision making and course management they displayed. He said following the round, "We got off to a really solid start today. Everyone played really solid and stuck with our game plan on how to play the Ralph Myhre course. It's a tricky course and you need to have self discipline. We are looking forward to the challenge ahead of us. There are some good teams on top the leaderboard and we need to play well to keep the top spot."
The tournament concludes tomorrow with another round of 18 holes commencing at 9:00 AM with a shotgun start.