Entering the final two holes of the Navy Intercollegiate, junior Ryan Rodriguez of the Binghamton University golf team was within striking distance of first place. Rodriguez ended the first round in sole possession of the top spot on the leaderboard, but a strong performance from freshman Kyle Underwood of LIU Brooklyn on day two left Rodriguez on the outside looking in. Unfazed, Rodriguez sank a birdie putt on the par-three 17th and followed that up with a par on 18 to force a three-way tie for first place through two rounds. On the ensuing playoff hole, Rodriguez again made par, outscoring his two opponents and clinching his first career tournament victory.
“He’s worked hard on his game to get all aspects of his game working,” said BU head coach Bernie Herceg. “His first round he played really, really solid. He struck the ball well [and] putted really good. Overall, just a great performance from him.”
The par three earned in the playoff hole capped a remarkable two-round performance by Rodriguez that featured six birdies and only nine bogeys. He didn’t have a single hole where he dropped more than one shot. Rodriguez’s even first round of 71 tied the lowest 18-hole score of the entire tournament, buoying his overall, two-round score of three above par.
The Bearcats as a whole had a successful weekend, finishing in second place on the team leaderboard, their highest finish since winning the Matthews Auto Invitational in October. Two other Bearcats joined Rodriguez in the top 20; sophomore Nacho Glagovsky finished the tournament three shots off the lead with a score of six over par, tying for 11th, and classmate D.J. Griffiths tied for 18th with a total score of plus-eight.
“It was a good tournament for us,” Herceg said. “The guys played pretty consistent, pretty solid. Coming down the stretch we had a chance to win it, and if things would have gone our way, we could have, but it was a good performance.”
“Consistent” is an apt word to describe the overall team performance of BU, as the team shot 297 in each of its two rounds. The first round was slightly more erratic than the second, with many more bogeys from the five Bearcat golfers, but also more birdies to make up for it. Led by Rodriguez’s even round, the Bearcats ended the first day at 13 above par and tied for second place as a team.
The second day featured much steadier golf from Binghamton. St. Joe’s, previously in first, dropped off to fourth with a final round of 308, but Binghamton couldn’t jump into the lead, as the eventual winner, Lafayette, just edged the Bearcats out by three shots. The team matched its day-one performance to finish at 26 above par in its second-place performance.
The Navy Intercollegiate was Binghamton’s final invitational before the conference championship in Nevada, and the Bearcats couldn’t have asked for a better showing heading into the last event of the season. The performance in Annapolis, Maryland can only boost the team’s confidence in its abilities, but, according to Herceg, it only confirms what the team already knew.
“We feel we have a strong enough team to be very competitive [this] week,” Herceg said. “It helps us solidify that we’re in the right direction. The guys’ games are coming together … Our expectations were always to finish strong.”
The golf team’s season concludes this weekend at the Big Sky Conference in Boulder City, Nevada. The three-round championship begins tomorrow and wraps up on Sunday, April 28.