Harsh conditions on the final day of play kept the Binghamton University golf team from climbing from the ninth spot in the America Sky Championship standings earlier this week. In their worst outing of the three-day tournament, the Bearcats shot a 340 on Tuesday, cementing a ninth-place finish and missing out on the program’s first-ever chance at an automatic NCAA Championship bid.
This year marked the first time in the America Sky’s four-year history that a championship tournament was held for the conference’s 12 teams. Sacramento State took first place and the NCAA Championship bid after leading the entire tournament and finishing with a 54-hole total of 878 (+14).
Binghamton head coach Bernie Herceg acknowledged that the tournament’s heightened stakes of a possible NCAA Championship berth likely added a certain amount of pressure.
“I know it’s in the back of your mind when you’re playing,” Herceg said. “It’s great that we have this opportunity going forth, it’s a shame that we weren’t able to take advantage of it this past weekend.”
Sitting in fourth place at the end of Day 1, Binghamton slid down to ninth place after the second day and stuck there, finishing with an overall score of 968.
“Overall, I was a little bit disappointed in how we finished up in the event,” Herceg said. “I thought we were prepared and ready to really compete against the top teams … and we just didn’t perform as well as we could have … I know the guys were discouraged, and it’s something that we will learn from and improve on going into next season.”
Senior Trevor Fiedler led Binghamton to a top-five standing the first day with his opening round performance of 75 (+3). Fiedler recorded seven pars and was tied for seventh place individually at the end of day one.
“Trevor had a great first round to keep us where if we had a good second we could’ve maybe got back into the thick of things,” Herceg said.
The Bearcats combined to shoot a 313 (+25) in the opening round, and senior Mike Surdey finished the day a stroke behind Fiedler at 76 (+4).
Following a 315 performance on Day 2, however, Binghamton slipped five spots in the standings to ninth place. Sophomore Bryce Edmister bounced back from an opening day score of 80 to collect seven bogeys, seven pars and four birdies and finish with a team-best 75 (+3) in the second round.
Surdey continued to roll with a team-high 11 pars and a second day score of 77 (+5).
“Mike Surdey was probably our most consistent [player] the first two days,” Herceg said. “He really played well. He’s a senior this year so it was good to see him play good.”
On the final day of the tournament, windy and rainy conditions led the Bearcats to produce their highest score of the tournament and prevented them from gaining any ground in the standings.
Herceg acknowledged the negative effect the harsh conditions had on his team’s performance in round three, but added that the weather was no excuse for the team’s sub-par performances the first two days.
“Day three, the weather was horrendous and terrible and the higher scores out of all the teams reflected that,” Herceg said. “But the first two days we really should’ve played better than we did and scored better.”
Despite scoring an 85 in the final round, Surdey finished in 20th place individually with an overall score of 238 (+22). It was his second top-20 finish of the season and the sixth of his career.
Edmister recorded BU’s second-best finish of the tournament with a three-day score of 242, tying him for 32nd place.
After a solid start and an opening round top-10 standing, Fiedler finished 35th overall in the tournament, third best on the team.
The Bearcats will lose captains Surdey and Fiedler, as well as senior Steve Armstrong, when they graduate at the end of the semester.
Herceg said the vast experience of Surdey and Fiedler will be especially missed.
“They’re very good players, and both our captains and it will be tough spots to fill,” he said. “But right now we have three incoming — we have two freshmen coming in and a transfer coming in that we’re really excited about. And I’m looking forward to next season and the possibilities of, [being] a little bit more on the younger side … and developing into a very strong team in our conference.”
Binghamton closes the season with the lowest team scoring average in the program’s history at 298.9.