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Men’s Golf Comes Up Short at Taconic

By Will Case, Sports Editor

The men’s golf team saw its streak of winning the NESCAC tournament end at three last weekend, April 29-30, when they played at the Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, Mass., for the second time in as many weeks.

Williams dominated the event, shooting a collective 18-over 586 with the tournament’s lowest four scores all coming from Ephs. First-year Will Kannegieser shot a 145 for the weekend, taking individual championship honors by one stroke over fellow first-year Sam Goldenring. Just behind the Ephs’ pair of first-years was its pair of seniors as Jacob Watt-Morse shot a 147 and Grant Raffel shot a 148. The best round of the tournament belonged to Goldenring, who followed a 76 in Saturday’s round with a one-under 70 on Sunday.

The weekend totals for Middlebury, Trinity and Amherst were no match for that of the Ephs. The Panthers and Bantams tied for second with each shooting 602’s for the tournament. Amherst, competing in the event at the Mammoths for the first time, was a distant fourth as they shot a collective 628 over the two rounds.

Leading the Panthers were the usual suspects, as Rodrigo Andrade ’17 and Phil Morin ’19 recorded the lowest score for the Middlebury squad in what proved to be Andrade’s last collegiate competition. Andrade, the defending NESCAC individual champ, shot a 76 on Saturday and a 74 on Sunday.

“I felt like my putter was a great asset this weekend,” Andrade said. “It was the reason why I was able to score the way I did.”

The weekend-total of 150 actually was one stroke better than his score at NESCACs last year, although those were at the Ralph. Despite his low scores, he was never in the running for a repeat individual championship.

“I felt like this weekend was a blast and a true wake up call to the changes in NESCAC golf over these past few years,” Andrade said about his final weekend of collegiate golf. “150 over a weekend would have won most golf tournaments my first three years here but now it seems to be just short of the level of golf we are playing.”

Andrade added that he is grateful for his time with the golf team.

“I have gotten to know great guys over the years,” Andrade said. “Both of the older kids [Matt Marra ’17 and Graham Kenter ’17] have taught me so much on and off the course. So have the younger guys, who [I have tried to show] some of the things I have learned in the past. [These] have been huge aspects of my time at Middlebury. Could not be prouder of my team, and could not be prouder of our success.”

On the other hand, Morin was positioned well when play ended Saturday afternoon, as he walked off the course and into the clubhouse with a 73 on his scorecard. The wheels fell off Sunday though, as Morin struggled to the finish line with a 77. However, both of those scores were lower than the 81 and 78 he recorded in the tune-up at Taconic a week prior at the Williams Spring Invitational.

“Game felt pretty good,” Morin said shortly after the team wrapped up play on Sunday. “Just a couple misses and some tough bounces. Tough that we couldn’t get the job done for four in a row.”

One shot behind Morin and Andrade was Reid Buzby ’19 who shot a weekend total of 151. The results had to be tough on the sophomore given that only a week before he recorded a 141, 10 shots better, on the same course at the Williams Spring Invite.

“I was extremely confident going into Saturday’s round,” Buzby said. “My game was in the best place it has been in a while going into the tournament. I think I just wanted to play well too badly and when things started to go wrong I didn’t handle it very well mentally. On Sunday I actually injured my neck while warming up and it made it difficult to swing, so I was more focused on the injury than the golf and I think it made me play better. I was more relaxed and was enjoying being out there much more than I was on Saturday.”

Jeffrey Giguere ’20 was next in line for the Panthers as he shot a 153 over the weekend with a 74 on Saturday and a 79 on Sunday. Giguere’s presence at NESCACs kept a running theme of first-year success going for the Panthers. Fitz Bowen ’17 and Bennett Dougherty ’18 each won the individual conference crown in their first seasons with the program and Buzby and Morin were key factors in the Panthers’ ability to three-peat last year.

Giguere had an uneven weekend but his 74 for Saturday’s round put him in a position to take the individual trophy and put the team in a position to make it four in a row with good rounds on Sunday. Although Giguere was five strokes off of his own play Sunday he still managed to turn in a factoring score, as Joe Ko ’18 could not repeat Saturday’s success of 76 with another good contribution in the second round where he shot an 80.

“Today I just couldn’t hit the shots,” Giguere said once he was back on campus last Sunday. “I felt like my swing was fine, but I would either get unlucky bounces or I just wasn’t thinking through the shots as well. I didn’t do as good [of] a job of visualizing what shot I needed to hit for the situations I was given.”

Reflecting the feelings of his teammates, Giguere commended Williams for playing the collective round of a lifetime.

“Williams played impossibly well,” the first-year said. “We would have had to shoot so low to catch them. They’re great opponents and I don’t think we should be too disappointed with how we played. We are a great team and I know we can’t wait to get going again next season.”

When asked if he was looking forward to developing what seems to be a budding rivalry with Williams’ top first-years, Kannegieser and Goldenring, in coming seasons, Giguere said that he is “absolutely” embracing the opportunity to play against them again.

“I actually got the chance to play with Kannegieser today and he is a very solid player,” Giguere said of the new individual NESCAC champion. “I could sense that he wanted to beat me badly and the feeling was mutual. I was just unable to get it done today. Goldenring went bogey-free last weekend [April 22-23] for the whole tournament [Williams Spring Invitational], so he’s certainly a top player around here. I definitely have to step up my game, but yes, I am looking forward to playing many more rounds with these two players.”

While their run of consecutive NESCAC titles has come to an end and although Andrade is graduating, the Panthers’ future looks bright. Buzby and Morin, the staples of the roster, have two years left with the team. They will be joined by fellow sophomore David McDaniel ’19 who has shown tremendous improvement over this past season. For now though, that puts a wrap on all things golf for the 2016-17 seasons for Middlebury.

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