After two disappointing outings to start the season, the Binghamton golf team rebounded at the Cornell Fall Golf Invitational, tying for sixth place out of 16 teams last weekend. Although the Bearcats faltered in the second round, they rallied in the final round on the tournament’s last day to move up two spots on the leaderboard and into their tie for sixth.
“The first round was okay, the second round we didn’t play all that great, but the final round we played more consistent,” said Binghamton head coach Bernie Herceg. “It was very good for us to finish a little bit stronger and move in the right direction heading into our home tournament.”
For the second consecutive invitational, junior D.J. Griffiths was the lowest-scoring Bearcat, turning in a score of 217 through three rounds, good for four-above-par and a tie for 14th place out of 90 participants. His scores for each round were never far above par, and his best round was an even 71.
“He knows that’s where he should be,” Herceg said. “I’m sure he’s still a little disappointed he didn’t finish a little bit better. In his mind, he should be finishing in the top five. There’s good consistency there.”
Junior Justin Lane also had a strong tournament, returning to form over the weekend after an uncharacteristically poor performance at Colgate. Lane finished one stroke behind Griffiths at 218, tying for 17th place, and he had the lowest single round of any Bearcat in the invitational.
The team’s opening round saw it achieve a score of 293, placing it in the middle of the pack on the leaderboard. Senior Ryan Rodriguez carded five birdies in the first round, including three in four holes, on his way to an even score for the round, while Lane’s scorecard was kept relatively free of bogeys.
In the second round, however, the bogeys grew numerous for the team, and the Bearcats’ scores grew higher. Griffiths managed to keep his tally even, but Lane could not recover from dropping four shots on the opening three holes. The Bearcats’ score in the second round was 300.
Unfazed by their slight unraveling at the end of the first day, the Bearcats rebounded with their best round of the invitational on Sunday. Lane led the way with a round of 69, draining five birdies and scoring above par on only two holes. Had it not been for a double bogey on the par-three 17th, Lane would have leapfrogged Griffiths and finished in a tie for 13th. Regardless, Herceg was pleased by the improved scoring from all of his players.
“Their scoring was a little bit better,” Herceg said. “They didn’t have as many big numbers. They turned doubled bogeys into bogeys [and] they made more birdies.”
Taking the title at the Cornell Fall Golf Invitational was Columbia, who survived a final-day charge by Bucknell to claim victory by a single stroke. And though Saint Joseph’s finished well back at 14th on the team leaderboard, it was Hawks senior Michael O’Brien who took home the individual title behind a final-round 66.
The Bearcats now have more than two weeks to prepare for the Matthews Auto Collegiate Invitational, the annual tournament hosted by Binghamton that the Bearcats won a year ago. The team will use this week to take a breather before preparation begins in earnest next week.
“We’ll be playing out here at the golf course a lot,” Herceg said. “After this week, I’m gonna have the guys play more on the golf course, simulate more shots, work on their bunker play and tee shots and, of course, work on their driving, chipping and putting.”
The Matthews Auto Collegiate Invitational will take place over two days, beginning on Sunday, Oct. 6 from The Links at Hiawatha Landing in Apalachin, New York.