With five All-League individual honor ranking, one League Rookie of the Year award and even the League’s Player of the Year award, the golf team should have by all accounts been satisfied at the conclusion of this past weekend’s Liberty League golf championship.
The ’Jackets had done their home turf proud, shooting a combined 594 to claim an incredibly close second place behind perennial powerhouse Skidmore College (588) and well ahead of third-place Renssealer Polytechnic Institute (615) and five other Liberty League teams.
And yet the home team was still hungry, pleased with the individual results but itching for the much more satisfying feat that thwarted them this time around — a victory over Skidmore.
“As a team we shot some good scores but it wasn’t quite enough,” senior Chris Driscoll said. “This weekend is a good tournament to work off for the rest of the season, but we still need to get better.”
Driscoll, who tied for eighth place individually, was one of three named to the All-League Second team.
Freshman Nick Palladino led the Yellowjackets throughout the tournament, shooting a two-under 70 on Saturday before upping the ante with a four-under 68 to win the individual title by a comfortable seven strokes. The first-year was later named both League Rookie and Player of the Year.
“This weekend was just very consistent, good golf for me,” Palladino said, though he preferred to focus on the team’s performance, noting that they “gave Skidmore a good preview of how good we will be in the next couple of weeks.”
“Palladino was astounding,” junior David Wien said. “We were in contention to win because of the other players’ commitment to not give up.”
Indeed, despite struggling early Saturday due to abnormally high winds, the men pulled themselves together in time to close the day only two strokes out of first place, as both Driscoll and senior Ryan Williams finished Saturday with 74 strokes, with junior Michael Chudacoff at 77 and Wien at 78.
Consistency was the name of the game Sunday, as no team member fell off their Saturday pace by more than three strokes.
As a team, the Yellowjackets actually shot a lower score on the second day, an impressive feat considering the lack of ideal Sunday weather and general fatigue from the day before.
“Shooting 299 and 295 is solid,” Williams said, referring to the overall 299-stroke performance UR displayed Saturday and 295 Sunday, respectively. “But we need to be doing that consistently to get to where we want to be at the end of the year.”
Every man on the team knows exactly “where” Williams is pointing to — the NCAA National Championship in Greensboro, N.C.
They aren’t a bunch of dreamers, however, as each teammate appears fully prepared to take it upon himself to reach that final destination in the coming weeks.
“Individual improvements are always possible,” Chudacoff said. “And if this can happen I think we can not only be good in our region, but dangerous nationally.”
Bernstein is a member of the class of 2014.