Men's golf disappoints in final tournament

Div. I, II and III teams from all across New England competed in the tournament. While the actual competition was held on Monday and Tuesday, team members competed against each other the previous weeks in qualifying rounds for this tournament on the team’s home course.

Over the two-day tournament, the team shot a combined 667 to finish in a tie for 29th, 31 shots behind Div. III champion University of Southern Maine and 61 shots behind overall champion University of Connecticut. Tuesday’s cumulative team round of 331 was the second-worst score the team has shot this fall; only Monday’s round of 336 surpassed it. The team’s overall score was a full 21 shots worse than any score the Jeffs have shot in a two-day tournament this season.

Despite a slow start, the Jeffs had been building momentum as the season progressed, finishing a strong fourth at the NESCAC Championships two weeks ago behind a breakout performance from sophomore Sean Jules and the typical stellar play of senior captain Justin Sharaf. Jules’ play paced the team for the second tournament in a row, as he shot 79-81-160.

Unfortunately, his first-round score of 79 was the only sub-80 round for the entire team on either day. Sharaf, who had not shot above the 79 all year long, had only the third-best score on the team, shooting rounds of 84 and 81. Sophomore Andy Bruns, who has been occasionally brilliant, shooting in the 70s on multiple occasions, also had his worst tournament of the year, shooting rounds of 96 and 91. His worst round of the season previously had been an 88.

The one bright spot for the Jeffs was the play of junior Keith Zalaski, who had his best tournament of the year, shooting rounds of 82 and 80 to finish second on the team behind Jules.

“Zalaski really stepped up for this final tournament,” said Jules. “The scoring conditions were very difficult. Any score around 80 on Tuesday in the pouring rain was impressive.”

The team’s fourth-best scorer was Gifford Sommerkamp ’05, making his collegiate tournament debut. Sommerkamp, who just joined the team this season, shot a 91-89-180.

The poor scores on Tuesday can at least partly be blamed on inclement weather. “It was awful; about 40 degrees and raining. Miserable,” said Zalaski. “On the backside my muscles started to tighten up and it was tough to swing.” The nasty weather also slowed play considerably, and the Jeffs had to play almost six hours in the cold, wet conditions before they finally finished their round. “Everyone battled. We just didn’t score as well as we would have liked,” added Zalaski.

As bad as Tuesday was, the team’s scores were even worse on Monday, when they played the Port course, which, while shorter than the Starboard course they played on Tuesday, has a slightly higher difficulty ranking. The fact that the team had a two week-long layoff between tournaments could have also contributed to their coming out a little rusty.

Whatever the reason, the Jeffs fell behind NESCAC rivals Tufts University and Middlebury and Trinity Colleges on the first day and were unable to catch them. Amherst had beaten both Trinity and Tufts just two weeks earlier at the NESCAC Championships.

“We played pretty poorly the first day. It was tough to end the season not playing as well as we could,” said Zalaski, summing up the team’s sentiments.

The Jeffs will have a chance to avenge their disappointing fall season in the spring when they play four more tournaments, including the Little Three Championships against archrivals Williams College and Wesleyan University.