Following an impressive start, the Binghamton golf team faltered down the stretch, opening the 2015 fall season with an 11th place finish out of 15 teams at the Turning Stone-Tiger Intercollegiate in Verona, New York over the weekend. After taking an early 18-hole lead, the Bearcats failed to carry their momentum into the final two rounds of play.
The host team, Missouri, came out on top, posting an 862 (-2) for the tournament. Mizzou finished 10 strokes ahead of runner up Cleveland State. Cleveland State freshman Joey Krecic was the top individual scorer, shooting 212 (-4). Four golfers tied for second one shot back at 213 (-3).
Junior Sameer Kalia led the Bearcats, scoring 221 (+5) to finish in a tie for 18th place. Freshman Gray Potter made his collegiate debut, finishing tied for 33rd with 226 strokes (+10). The team’s third-best finisher, junior Kyle Wambold, scored 230 (+14) to tie for 46th place, while senior captain Jesse Perkins was two shots behind at 232 (+16).
BU led the pack after the first round of play on Sunday, hitting 284 (-2), two shots ahead of Missouri and nine strokes ahead of third-place contenders Hartford and Cleveland State. Potter led the Bearcats in round one with 66 (-6) strokes. Potter’s impressive, tournament-low six-under par, round one performance tied a Binghamton golf record set in 2010.
“It was very exciting for our program to be there at that type of tournament, to be in first place after round one,” Binghamton head coach Bernie Herceg said. “For Gray to shoot a 66, you’ve got to understand this is his first collegiate tournament, and he goes out and shoots one of the best rounds in our program history to lead us into first place, that was outstanding.”
Despite their strong play in round one, the Bearcats quickly fell out of contention in round two, when their 36-hole tally rose to 318 strokes (+25). Wambold, who shot a one-under 71 in the opening round, shot a 78 (+6) in the second. Potter, who led the field individually after 18, shot an 85 (+13). BU concluded the first day of play 28 shots off the lead in ninth place.
“We played 36 holes on Sunday, and the course is challenging enough where you’ve got to use a lot of course management,” Herceg said. “I think there might’ve been some mental fatigue coming down the stretch.”
The third round saw BU improve on its performance, posting a 303 (+15), which led to an 11th place finish. Kalia was the steadiest Bearcat on a team that struggled with consistency over the course of the tournament. The junior shot a 74, 74 and 73 in rounds one, two and three, respectively.
Finding consistency is something that the team will try to work on in their next competition.
“We’ll be playing 36 holes in one day again,” Herceg said. “We’re basically just looking to start off with a solid round and then back it up with another solid round.”
The Bearcats are set to return to the links at the Cornell Fall Invitational in Ithaca, New York on September 19 and 20. The first round is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday.
“We won it in the past — some of the freshmen have played Cornell’s course,” Herceg said. “So I’m really looking forward to competing there in a few weeks.”