Freshman Ryan Williams picked a good time to come into his own. This past week, the newcomer shot a two-over 146 through two rounds at the University Athletic Association Championships to win the individual title. The Championship – played at the Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge in Orlando, Fla. – was the first win of Williams’s young career and earned him UAA Rookie of the Year honors in addition to a selection to the All-UAA First Team.

“Ryan played about as gutsy a round of golf as you could ask for on a day with winds blowing in seemingly every direction and greens as hard as pavement,” head coach Dan Wesley said. “I’m so happy for him and so proud of him, and I can’t even find the words for it.”

Williams has come out of nowhere this year. In his first tournament last fall, he tied for 57th out of a field of 70. After placing 17th at the Muskingum Invitational two weeks ago, however, it was clear the freshman was finding his stroke. On Tuesday, Williams shot a 74 – one of only four scores under 75 for the day – to capture the come-from-behind win.

After the first day of competition, UR’s team performance was good enough to tie for second place with New York University. Williams shot a 72, and senior Stephen Goodridge shot a 75. Goodridge was named to the Second Team All-UAA after finishing the tournament tied for 11th place with a score of 157. This was the fourth-straight year that Goodridge has been awarded All-UAA honors. In his freshman year, Goodridge claimed UAA Rookie of the Year honors.

Goodridge was also named Athlete of the Week in the UAA for the week of April 9 because of his performance at the Mid-Atlantic District II Invitational in Hershey, Pa. on April 6-7.

On the second and final day of competition, the ‘Jackets slipped into fifth place out of six teams. Williams was the only ‘Jacket with a score under 80 for the second day. He shot a two-over 74. Goodridge struggled, shooting a 10-over 82 through 18 holes.

“As a team, we just didn’t react to the conditions with the toughness I expected – except for Ryan – and that is disappointing,” Wesley said. “We were in good position after day one as we were tied with NYU for second place, but we couldn’t hold up on day two.”

The Emory University Eagles won the team title, shooting a 591 through the two rounds – a score that was 24 strokes better than the second-place team. The Eagles came into the championship ranked 21st nationally according to the most recent Golf Coaches Association of America.

Three Emory players finished tied for second place behind Williams with a score of 174. Carnegie Mellon University finished in second place and NYU took third with scores of 615 and 619, respectively. Brandeis University was last with a score of 650.

“It’s no crime to lose to CMU, but we didn’t even put up a fight, and that’s hard to take,” Wesley said. “We get a chance for payback this week as we head to Carnegie’s tournament near Pittsburgh, and I expect us to battle hard.”

Three UR players shot under 165 for the two days. Freshman Chris Driscoll scored a 160, while freshman Kevin Gay and junior Jon Pecor shot 162 and 163, respectively, over the two-day tournament.

It is the second-straight year that the ‘Jackets have finished fourth in the UAA Championships. Last year, Goodridge led UR with a second-place performance, shooting an even-par 144.

The ‘Jackets resume play this weekend in Apollo, Pa., where they will take part in the two-day Shootout at The Links. Last year, the event was supposed to precede the UAA Championship but was cancelled due to weather.

After the trip to Apollo, the ‘Jackets will return to Rochester for the Fred B. Kravetz Invitational. The first round will be played at the Irondequoit Country Club. On the second day, the golfers will move to the Oak Hill Country Club East.

The next potential tournament for UR will be the NCAA Championships in Brasilton, Ga. on May 13-16.

Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.

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