By AUGUSTUS GROHMANN
This past weekend, UMW’s golf teams hosted the Eagle Invitational Golf Tournament, a two-day division III golfing event. The men’s team competed against Washington & Jefferson, Catholic, Johnson & Wales (Denver), Arcadia, Virginia Wesleyan, Eastern Mennonite, Marymount. The women’s team competed against a slightly different listing of schools: Marymount, Shenandoah, Arcadia, Randolph-Macon, Virginia Wesleyan, Goucher, Catholic, Sweet Briar and Johnson & Wales (Denver).
This was the first tournament of the spring season for the men’s team, and the second for the women’s, having previously played a tournament in Richmond.
The tournament was composed of two simultaneous events, one for the men’s team and one for the women’s team. Each team has five players play, with the lowest four scores being factored into the final score for the school. The individual player with the lowest score is taken as the individual winner for the event.
The men’s team took first with a composite score of 597 (+29) over the two-day event, with golfer Phillip Manceri placing first in the individual category, and golfers Sebastien Bonte, Robin Yu and Jason Guintu taking third, sixth and tenth, respectively.
On the women’s end, the team finished fourth, with sophomore Andrea Dill receiving medalist honors, Crystal Pham placing twelfth, Sara Fioretti 28th, and Ashley Ruehl 38th.
When interviewed before the tournament, the team seemed fairly confident in their abilities. During last year’s season, the men’s team won their conference championship and made it into the national tournament, even though it was only the team’s second year in existence. Moreover, several members of both teams trained throughout spring break, perfecting their golf skills through practice. According to golfer Sebastien Bonte, the team “played 18 holes a day pretty much.”
When asked about how confident he was in the team going into the invitational, golfer Phillip Manceri said, “I think we should win, because that’s our goal. I mean, if we don’t win, I’d be pretty disappointed. We know what level we can perform at, and if we perform at that level, we should be fine.”
Coach Brendan McGrath, although optimistic, responded in a more cautious manner, stating that “Golf is much more random than predicting who will win or lose. I think if you do the right thing, a lot of times winning will take care of itself but there’s far too much randomness in golf to predict who’s going to win and who’s not going to win.”
However, McGrath still expressed clear confidence in the ability of his players, stating, “I like to think we’re prepared, we’ve done our work to play well, perform well, whether or not that happens, that’s a different story.”
This was also one of the first tournaments for McGrath, who is the team’s third coach, and began coaching the team during this past fall. It is also McGrath’s first experience coaching a college-level golf team.
“I think he’s been great, honestly. I really like what he’s doing so far, I think he’s getting the program on the right track, back to where it should be. His ideas and his ways of going about it work really well,” said Manceri when asked about McGrath’s leadership.
McGrath has focused on tackling a variety of problems, one of them being recruitment. The women’s team in particular has faced difficulty on this front.
“We do our best with it. The single biggest issue is recruitment in division III golf. It’s a little more difficult on the woman’s side than it is the men’s side, simply because of the amount of players. Recruiting on the women’s side, the pool is smaller and more difficult,” said McGrath.
The team is also very new, being only in its second year of existence. As such, the team is composed of only six players, five of which competed in the recent invitational.
The men’s team will be returning next week at the Camp Lejeune College Invitational. Similarly, the women’s team will be competing next weekend at York College in Pennsylvania.