Golf Team Finds Long Awaited Success In Final Tounrament

Todd Garvey

Success comes to those who wait. Raider golf head coach Braden Houston has been waiting the entire season for his team to reach its potential. It took four tournaments, but the golf squad finally put it all together last weekend at the NBT Bank Collegiate Invitational at Binghamton University. After a series of finishes at the bottom of the leaderboard, the Raiders regained their confidence with a fourth-place finish on the beautiful Links at Hiawatha in Apalachin, NY, thanks largely to first-year Ricky Hayes’ first-place finish. Although the weather was windy, with temperatures in the low 40s, the Raiders came out firing, placing third after the first day and dropping just one spot at the conclusion of the tournament. Host and favorite Binghamton University won the tournament with a two-round total of 603. The University of Ottawa finished second with a 613, while Duquesne University followed closely with a 619. The Raiders made their best showing of the year with a 628, good enough for fourth place. Houston knew his team had the ability to compete, but he was just waiting for his five players to all play well at the same time. “It was a challenging course but enjoyable – a nice way to finish the season,” Houston said. The only performance that surpassed the team’s collective showing was the individual performance of Hayes. Hayes came out hot with a one under par 71 on the first day; quite an accomplishment on a difficult course that was made more difficult by inclement weather. Hayes began to struggle on the second day, forcing him to leave his wayward driver in his bag for much of the back nine. “Coming down 18, I knew I was probably tied or a shot ahead, so I knew I could not make a bogey,” Hayes recalled. Hayes could not have been more right, but found himself in the greenside bunker, needing to get up and down to preserve his victory. With perhaps the biggest shot of the tournament, Hayes blasted out of the bunker and sank a 15-foot put to win the tournament. “Ricky makes nice recoveries,” Houston said about Hayes. “He has an all-around solid game.” Hayes finished with a two-round total of 146, but he was equally proud of his team. “It was a great feeling as a [first-year] to win a tournament for myself but more for the recognition that Colgate has more talent than people expect,” Hayes said after winning his tournament. “It was a nice way to finish off my first season.” Hayes has been the Raiders’ most consistent threat, leading the team in every tournament this fall. Following Hayes was sophomore Jay Hlavacek in 23rd place with a 158, junior Dave Policano (35th place) with a 161 and classmate Sam Higgins, who tied for 43rd place with a 163. Sophomore Devin Taylor finished 55th with a score of 172. The Invitational ends the Raiders’ fall season. The Raiders can use this win as a foundation to build off of as they prepare for the spring season. There is nothing more important than having the confidence of knowing you can compete. “Last weekend was a breakthrough for the team,” Hlavacek said after the final fall tournament. “It proved to the guys that we can compete and hopefully we can carry that confidence into the spring season.” The next stop for the Raiders is Buford, SC, where the team will travel for the second consecutive year in search of warmer temperatures and greener links during spring break.