Unlucky bounces followed wayward shots. Senior captain Kyle Wambold faltered on a punishing course while fellow senior Sameer Kalia sat out due to injuries in his left knee and ankle. In its first tournament of the season, the Binghamton golf team struggled, placing 13th out of 14 teams at the Turning Stone Tiger Intercollegiate.
The host team, Missouri, won the tournament after taking advantage of a late slide by Texas A&M, who took a seven-shot lead heading into the final round on Monday. Mizzou posted an 852 (-12) for the tournament to finish seven strokes ahead of the Aggies. Texas A&M junior Kavan Eubanks took home the individual title, shooting 208 (-8).
The Bearcats started out poorly, finishing the first round with 319 (+31) strokes. Their dismal first round left them in 13th place, where they would remain for the rest of the tournament, during which they recorded a 946 (+82). Sophomore Jack Faraci led BU, scoring 230 (+14) to finish tied for 41st while classmate Zak Ottman finished three strokes back of Faraci to tie for 47th.
“We definitely didn’t play up to our potential,” said BU head coach Bernie Herceg. “The course is very challenging and it definitely exposed some things that we need to work on, which is a good thing. Trouble comes into play from the tee, to both the right and left of the landing areas.”
Wambold, who is expected to lead the team this year after the graduation of Jesse Perkins, didn’t perform as expected. Though he bookended two listless rounds with a 74 (+2) in round two, Wambold didn’t play up to his potential. He led the Bearcats last spring when he won the Wildcat Invitational and finished the Lehigh Valley Collegiate Invitational and the Big Sky Championship tournaments tied for third and seventh, respectively.
“Kyle [Wambold] is, in my opinion, our strongest player, but it just wasn’t his week,” Herceg said. “He was just slightly off his game and that can happen on this course. I know that going forward that he’ll be working hard at his game and to lead this team.”
After finding more success at Turning Stone last season, where the Bearcats finished 11th of 15 teams, Herceg wishes the Bearcats had started the season off on a better note despite the strong competition.
“I went into it thinking that we could contend a little bit more in the middle of the pack,” Herceg said. “However, there were some strong teams here and it didn’t happen. So we will move on and try to get better.”
Bright spots for Binghamton took the form of the final two rounds played by freshman Tom Mandel. After shooting an 18-over in the first round, he finished the final two rounds with a combined 8-over-par.
“[Mandel] is fairly consistent,” Herceg said. “Tom hits the ball straight and in the first round, things weren’t quite going his way. But Tom had a really solid round today, and I’m looking forward to seeing him improve and become more consistent.”
For the rest of the fall season, the Bearcats will play at courses they have experience at, which Herceg believes will help them.
“We have really good experience at the next few tournaments we play at,” Herceg said. “We know the courses well and one of them is our home tournament. So as we’re going into the final rounds of the next four tournaments, I think it’s going to be viable for the team to finish in top three or win.”
The Bearcats will return to action at the Cornell Fall Invitational held on Sept. 17 and 18 in Ithaca, New York.