The women opened up their 2011 fall season last weekend at the New York University Invitational. Coming off a successful year in which the team earned four runner-up finishes, the Jeffs were looking to build on their impressive track record from recent seasons. In fact, the past few years have seen the program grow into a national contender under the leadership of head coach Michelle Morgan. Amherst has won 11 tournaments in that time frame and is currently the two-time defending NESCAC Champion. Although the loss of three-time NGCA All-American Hayley Milbourn ’11 has surely left a big hole, there are plenty of returning players ready to fill the void.
One of those returners, senior co-captain Laura Monty, certainty set a solid tone for her season with a two-day total of 163, pacing the Jeffs at NYU. She put together two remarkably consistent rounds, coming in at 82 and 81, respectively, on Saturday and Sunday. Right behind her was Nina Yoo ’12, who recovered from an opening round 85 to shoot a team- and tournament-low 79 on Sunday (85-79-164). After finishing even with Yoo on Saturday, Kristen Lee ’14 also made a Sunday charge to finish a stroke behind her teammate at 165 (85-80). Co-captain Elaine Lin ’12 (86-83-169) and Sooji Choi ’14 (89-88-177) rounded out the Jeffs’ top five scorers.
Those individual performances earned Amherst an impressive third-place finish. Although they could not keep pace with NESCAC rivals Williams (311-319-630) and Middlebury (319-324-643), they easily held off fourth place St. Lawrence by 18 strokes.
That impressive margin is even more remarkable considering that the Jeffs were in fifth place, trailing St. Lawrence and Vassar by three strokes after Saturday’s round. The Jeffs, however, responded to the challenge with a final round charge that should help define their season. The team shot the second-lowest cumulative score on Sunday (323) to make its move up the leaderboard.
Looking to build off this momentum, Amherst will return to action this weekend at the Mount Holyoke Invitational. The competition represents the second event in a tough fall schedule for the Jeffs, in which they play on five straight weekends. Given the tenacity they displayed in their Sunday comeback, no one is overlooking these Jeffs.
The men’s golf team traveled to Middlebury last weekend to compete in the 27th Duke Nelson Invitational. Coming off a successful third-place performance at the Trinity Invitational, the Jeffs were looking to build off their momentum and put together another solid team effort. Led by Nicholas Koh ’14, the Jeffs did just that, earning a 10th place finish out of 24 teams.
The Jeffs began the tournament well, shooting a respectable 314 on Saturday, to put themselves in ninth place. Koh paced the team with a 1-over 73, tying his career-best score set just last week, to jump into fifth place after the opening round. Meanwhile, his sophomore teammate Ben Johnston put together a solid round himself, coming in four strokes behind Koh at 77.
Sunday’s final round was kinder to the Jeffs on the scorecard, but that did not translate into the leaderboard team results. The team stepped up their play, shaving four strokes off their Day 1 total, but was leapfrogged by Trinity and dropped one spot to finish the tournament in 10th place.
While the Jeffs said they would have liked to shoot lower scores, they took solace by recognizing the Middlebury course as a well-known killer. As Koh described it, “If you get above the hole, it’s like trying to putt on glass — the course is easily one of the toughest on the NESCAC rotation.”
The immense difficulties of the course make Koh’s individual performance stand out all the more. After his impressive Saturday, Koh outdid himself on Sunday, shooting a career-low 72 and tying the record for the best-ever Amherst score at the course. He was one of only three players, of the 118 competing, to come in at 72 or better in the final round, earning him sole possession of second place for the tournament.
Captain Nate Belkin ’12 finished second for the Jeffs, shooting a final round 77 to bring his two-day total to 158. Right on his heels was Johnston, whose pace fell off slightly from Saturday, but who still managed to come in third for Amherst (77-82-159). Rounding out the Jeffs’ scorecard were Alex Butensky ’13 (83-79-162) and Jarvis Sill ’15 (87-83-170), who both came back strong after high scores on Saturday to shave four strokes of each of their Day 1 scores.
After two straight weekends of tough play, the going does not get much easier for the Jeffs. The team returns to action this weekend at the Williams Invitational, their final tournament before the NESCAC Qualifier in early October. The team hopes that a successful weekend will set the tone for the fall season’s stretch run.