The UR golf team has started their season with steady performances in two tournaments. UR, who was ranked #27 nationally in Division III in the pre-season, started competition with a ninth place finish in a field of 22 teams, at the Colgate Fall Invitational on Sept. 7 and 8.
To finish ninth in this field was very respectable for the Yellowjackets, considering they were one of only two Div. III teams competing, destroying the other Div. III opponent, Hamilton College, by 40 strokes.
The consistent play over the weekend was illustrated in the performance of top finisher, sophomore Dave Masters, who put up a pair of 77s, finishing 27th individually, only eight strokes off the pace of the winner. Rochester’s second best finisher, senior Mike Quijano, fired an equally consistent 78 and 77, to finish nine shots off the pace.
“The consistent play, as a team and as individuals, was nice to see, and will be necessary to reach our goals for the season,” coach Rich Johnson said. The greatest amongst these goals, is to qualify in the 23 team field at the NCAA Div. III golf nationals. To qualify, UR must finish third or better in the Mid-Atlantic Region, or receive one of five wild cards given out each year.
The team had to keep this in mind heading into their next tournament on Sept. 21 and 22, the Williams Invitational. Here, UR met up with a talent-packed field of 24 teams, which included five teams that were ranked top 25 in the Div. III pre-season rankings. One of these five included Mid-Atlantic rival, ninth ranked Wesley College.
On Saturday, the golf team combined for a score of 301, which put them in sixth place after the first day of competition at the Williams Invitational.
Unfortunately, Sunday’s play was rained out, leaving UR to settle with their sixth place finish. Johnson was reasonably pleased with the teams performance, but would have liked to show what the team was capable of if they were given that second day.
“A 301 is normally a very good score at a Div. III tournament, but with a field of that caliber, with four teams in the top 20, it just was not good enough,” said Johnson. However, the score did hold up to beat regional rival Wesley by four strokes, establishing Rochester as a contender for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Title.
The team is off to a solid start, but will have to continue to improve and stay consistent if they are to reach their goal of nationals. The team is very experienced and according to Johnson, “At this level of golf, I look to each of my players to do some work and cut a stroke off their games, allowing us to shoot lower in the future.”
Today, UR will head to the East Coast Athletic Conference qualifier tournament, where they will need to finish in the top six of the 18 team field to qualify for the ECAC Championships, which are to be held on October 5 and 6.
Fitzsimmons can be reached at email@example.com.