When the rain began, Amherst’s 312 propelled it to a second-place showing, six strokes ahead of archrival Williams College but one stroke behind Hamilton. Sean Jules ’07 paced the Jeffs (35-41-76) and was third individually.
Jules cited the importance of having played Taconic Golf Course the week before. “I think our performance from last weekend to this weekend proved that previously playing the course makes a world of difference,” he said.
Mike Valentine ’05 didn’t play last weekend-but you wouldn’t know it from his score. He fired a 78 to join Jules on the All-NESCAC First-Team. One stroke behind Valentine were David Litt ’06 and Drew Russ ’07. The two earned Second-Team All-NESCAC honors along with captain Justin Sharaf ’05, but were responsible for the two holes that would spell Amherst’s defeat. “On 18 I just made one bad swing,” said Litt, “I really went after it and it was completely unnecessary. To hit it where I did was just mental error.”
Painful as Litt’s triple bogey on 18 must have been, Russ’ five-putt on the par 3 200-yard 17th hole was probably even more wrenching, especially after he made the turn at one under. The pin placement evoked memories of the 1998 U.S. Open, held at the Olympic Club, where Payne Stewart lipped out his putt on 18 and then watched as his ball picked up speed and rolled 35 feet down the slope and off the green.
Still, Jules had nothing but kind words about Litt and Russ. “It hurts to lose by just one stroke, but it isn’t fair to look only at [their] last two holes. Any one of us could have made up a single shot throughout an 18-hole round.”
Litt said the lesson he took away from 18 was the need to maintain focus. “Everyone on the team probably left a couple out there, and now � we know we just need to focus a little more.” Still, with five All-NESCAC golfers, and a second-place finish, it is clear, in Litt’s words, that the Jeffs “belong among the better teams in New England.”
The women also had their tournament cut short by Sunday’s rain. They, too, could have used the extra day.
The Jeffs shot a 351 to secure a share of third place along with rival Wellesley College at the Mount Holyoke Invitational. Fairfield University won with a collective 346, while the tournament host finished second with a 349.
The field posted much higher scores than usual, according to junior captain Meg Sullivan, due to the temporary greens, torn up fairways and aerated greens, all preparations The Orchards is undertaking for the 2004 U.S. Women’s Open.
In the meantime, senior Katherine Kuchefski was again the Jeffs’ low-scorer, shooting 86 to tie for 11th place. Rookie Sarah Harper and Emily Foran ’05 carded 87s. Sullivan bounced back from an “atrocious” front nine with a 41 on the back for a 91. Lauren White ’07 (109), meanwhile, filled in for injured junior Sarah Godwin. “[E]veryone says in freshman year no one plays that well,” said White. “I didn’t feel much pressure because we have four strong upperclassmen.”
Next week the women travel to Wellesley. And “after a couple of successful seasons and a good start this year, our expectations are very high,” said Sullivan.