The Binghamton golf team got its 2019 fall season underway earlier this week with the Turning Stone-Tiger Intercollegiate, hosted by the University of Missouri. At the invitational, the team failed to consistently turn in low scores, resulting in a 10th-place finish to start the season.
“It was a little bit disappointing, no doubt,” said BU head coach Bernie Herceg. “I thought we would play a little bit more consistent, finish a little bit higher than we did.”
Fourteen schools participated in the tournament — a combined total of 88 golfers. The highest finisher for the Bearcats was junior Justin Lane, whose total score over three rounds of golf was 225, or nine over par. The Bearcats as a whole combined for a three-round total of 912, or plus-52.
“Overall our ball striking was so-so,” Herceg said. “Our short game isn’t as good as it can be, so we’re definitely spending a lot of time this week on our short game, our chipping and our putting, just to have our scores a little bit more consistent.”
Binghamton ended the opening round in the middle of the pack, tied for eighth place with a score of 307. Lane and junior D.J. Griffiths were the steadiest BU golfers in the round, each of them limiting their bogey output enough to finish only slightly above par for the round. The other three Bearcats, however, each finished the round at plus-eight.
Whereas most of the other teams saw improvement in the second round of the tournament, the Bearcats only managed to replicate their score of 307. Senior Ryan Rodriguez saw the most improvement from the first to the second round, highlighted by his three-shot eagle on the first hole, but such scoring was rare for the Bearcats in the round. The team only managed to finish eight holes better than par, compared to nine holes of double bogey or worse.
Rodriguez had the Bearcats’ best round of the invitational on the second of the two-day event, closing the first outing of his senior year with a final-round, even score of 72. The Bearcats as a whole shaved five shots off of their previous two rounds, but it wasn’t enough to lift them into the top half of the leaderboard.
Lane finished in a tie for 27th place on the individual leaderboard with his plus-nine score. Rodriguez was just behind him at 10 above par. Though Lane has had better performances in the past, his result at the Missouri event was enough to earn him Big Sky Golf Performer of the Week honors for the second time in his BU career.
“Overall he was fairly consistent,” Herceg said. “He was our most consistent player that we had for the week. He drove the ball pretty good, and his ball-striking was consistent.”
After the first round of the tournament, it seemed as though Missouri and North Carolina would be locked in a dead heat in the race to be the winner of the invitational, as they occupied the top two spots and were one shot apart. The Tar Heels, however, turned on the jets for the remainder of the tournament, easily claiming the title with a score of 42 below par. Missouri was the closest team to them at minus-seven. A Tar Heel claimed the individual title as well, as sophomore Ryan Burnett’s minus-18 tally was seven shots better than the rest of the field.
The team has a quick turnaround, with its next invitational set to take place this weekend. After a lower finish than the team hoped for in the season opener, the Bearcats will look to improve upon their game in hopes of a rebound performance.
The Bearcats’ next competition will be the Alex Lagowitz Memorial Invitational, hosted by Colgate University. The two-day event begins on Saturday, Sept. 7 in Hamilton, New York.