The men’s golf team continued its strong spring campaign, placing fifth out of 22 teams at the Lafayette Invitational on Saturday and Sunday. The Raiders, picked to finish fifth in the Patriot League by league coaches and sports information directors, proved their critics wrong by placing two spots ahead of Bucknell, which was predicted to win in the Patriot League title.
But not everything was rosy for Colgate. In the first round on Saturday, Colgate struggled to overcome inclement weather on the 6,916-yard par-72 Center Valley Country Club in Easton, Pa., and found itself in ninth place on the outside looking in. Sunday was a different story, however, as seniors Keaton Cross and Montek Mayal teamed together to lead the Raider comeback bid. Mayal fired a one-under 71, and Cross, the team captain, posted a one-over 73 to give the Raiders a team score of 296 on Sunday, the third-best score by any team in the tournament.
“We knew the conditions on Saturday were going to be tough, and from my experience [at Center Valley Country Club], the scores are usually higher than people anticipate,” Mayal said. “We were playing for position on Saturday so we could make moves on Sunday.”
Thanks to strong rounds on Sunday, both Cross and Mayal finished with a two-round score of 150 to finish tied for 12th individually in the tournament. First-years Chase Williams and Ben Jessen, two freshmen that are the future of the program, rounded out the top-4 on Sunday with respective scores of 74 and 78. Jessen received the Patriot League Honorable Mention Performance for the month of March after he led Colgate against Emory and at the George Washington Invitational.
The Raiders’ top-five finish at Lafayette is even more significant considering the team played without sophomore star Neil Thompson, one of the team’s top players who injured his foot before the spring season. Thompson, who had the second-best stroke average for Colgate as a first-year last year, should be return in full force by the Patriot League Championship on April 25 and 26.
Colgate’s fifth-place showing at Lafayette came two weeks after the team finished seventh out of 22 teams at the George Washington Invitational in Delaware, indicating that the team is on the right path heading into the Patriot League Championships.
“Everything is coming together at the right time for us,” Mayal said. “We worked harder than every team in the off-season, and the results speak for themselves.”
The team will get a week off for Easter, but then will travel to Indiana where they will compete against some of the top teams in Division-I golf.
“We’re looking forward to playing against the nation’s best,” Mayal said. “If all five of us are clicking at the same time, I believe we can be right up there at the top with the big names.”