Men's golf ends season on upswing

This year, in the wake of Sharaf’s graduaion and the addition of four new players, the team seemed to never find its identity.

Despite a strong spring season capped with a victory over Williams’ Matthew Slovitt in the Little Three Championship, Litt disappeared into the fray and was unheard from until the last two tournaments of the season. This left Jules and Bruns to lead a pack of green novices around the Northeast, competing against fields that seemed stronger than ever. The Williams team, coming off a 22nd-place finish at the NCAA Div. III Championship, remained essentially intact. The Ephs could be found at the top of the leaderboard every week with other perennial contenders Skidmore and Middlebury Colleges.

At the season-opening Duke Nelson Invitational, it seemed as if the heightened level of competition would be too much for the Lord Jeffs. While Williams and Skidmore were posting some of the lowest scores seen on Middlebury’s Ralph Myhre Golf Course, the Jeffs added 14 strokes to last year’s seventh-place effort. Rookies Glenn Wong and William Collins got their first taste of collegiate golf, both shooting in the mid-80s. Jules and Bruns led the team to a disappointing 17th, with both veterans starting the seasons solidly.

Williams’ Taconic Golf Club welcomed the Jeffs the following weekend, giving three new Jeffs a chance to prove their mettle. Bruns and Jules displayed the consistency they lacked in 2004, posting scores nearly identical to their Duke Nelson efforts. Sophomore Jesse Corradi, Drew Russ ’07, and Chris Valentine ’09 were given a chance to get their feet wet. Hearteningly, Russ became the third Jeff to break 80 in the 2005 season, but was unable to carry the momentum through to day two, ending with a two-day 169.

Returning to the Ephs’ course the next weekend for the NESCAC Championships, all eyes were on Jules. Last year he broke out to score 155 to earn himself second-place individually. This year he subsumed his previous performance, scoring an outstanding 76-75-151 for fifth-place individually and his third First Team All-NESCAC honors. Bruns let his thus far consistency slip to score a 164, but Corradi and Wong were able to slice strokes off of their previous tallies, and the Jeffs landed in sixth place.

At Skidmore’s Fall Classic, the Jeffs were without one of their two junior leaders for the first time all season. His ’07s picked up the slack as Russ continued to play promising golf-posting a 77-with Bruns regaining form with a 78. Litt resurfaced to shoot an 84, with Collins and Valentine also returning to tournament competition but unable to raise their level of play.

The New England Intercollegiate Golf Association Championships would cap off the season for the Jeffs,. The teamm traveled to Cape Cod again short a junior, this time Bruns. Fortunately, Russ was able to step up to score a team-low 76 in the second round ending his weekend with a 161. Jules played characteristically well, posting a 78-79-157. Wong showed his stuff, winning the tournament’s long-drive competition with a 340-yard blast (the drive was all carry as the ball plugged in the soggy fairway upon landing) and rode on the momentum to break 80 for the Jeffs. Corradi also contributed with a 173. Though the Jeffs ended 22nd out of 54 competing teams, they were actually able to improve on their placement from last year, when they came in 29th. This step up is reason for optimism for the Jeffs. “I feel like we were very close to shooting a really good team number,” said Jules. “The team’s performance, while although still losing, has improved significantly and when we actually have our best five play together, low numbers are a real possibility.”

While the team is still in a state of growth, they end the season excited for the Spring. With three players playing good golf-Russ, Bruns, and Jules-the Jeffs have a base on which to build. Last year Litt emerged from a fall doldrum to play great golf in the Spring, a turn that would be undoubtedly welcome again this year. While the Jeffs as a team are playing decent golf, they have a lot of room for improvement and the unquestionable potential to be competitive in tournament play.