Golf falters, finishes ninth, at F&M Invitational

Kyle Knapp plays in the F&M invitational. (Courtesy of
Kyle Knapp plays in the F&M invitational. (Courtesy of

In the third tournament of the young golf season, the Franklin & Marshall Invitational at Bent Creek Country Club, Swarthmore’s promising season hit a speed bump. The Garnet shot a collective score of 329 on the day to finish at 45 strokes over par and place ninth out of eighteen teams. “The course was tough, a lot of bounce,” head coach Jim Heller said. “There were houses on every hole.” Coach Heller cited key absences, specifically “number-two golfer” Kyle Knapp ’14, as a contributing factor in the team’s poor play. “This is the hard thing about golf,” Heller said. “It is not played at night and on weekends and it is hard to get your best golfers to matches.” “[Monday’s] tournament was our worst of the season so far,” co-captain Alex Nichamin ’12 said in an email. Nichamin shot an 86 (tied for 56th overall). “The only score worth mentioning today was Andrew Park.” First-year Park ’15 shot a team-low 75 to tie for fifth overall for individual players in the tournament. It is his third consecutive round in the 70s. Park, for his part, stressed that he still had work to do. “I wasn’t particularly happy or unhappy with my score,” Park said. “I still have a couple mistakes to clean up.” Co-captain Paul Weston ’12 placed second on the team and tied for 40th overall with a round of 83. Fresh off setting a Swarthmore record with a round of 69 in last week’s Messiah Fall Open, sophomore Jeff Wall ’14 placed third on the team and tied for 49th overall. Fellow sophomore Price Ferchill ’14 added an 86 round for the Garnet. “We played badly as a team,” Wall said. “We need to work, as a team, on staying focused throughout a round.” The generally despondent tone from team members regarding their finish is a reflection of how much hope and optimism they have for this season, which they strongly believe should end with a strong performance at next spring’s Centennial Conference Tournament. “This is easily the most talented team we’ve had in my four years here,” Nichamin added. “In addition to myself and senior co-captain Paul Weston (he has been all-conference the past two seasons, and I was all-conference my freshman year), the four sophomores on our team are very strong players, and Andrew Park is very talented as well. We always say each year that we have a chance to win the conference, but this year is the first year that I truly believe it. If we aren’t in contention for the championship in the spring, it will be a major disappointment.” In the team’s two previous tournaments this season, Swarthmore won its namesake Swarthmore Invitational with a 305 score. The next day, lead by Wall’s record-breaking round, the Garnet finished sixth at the Messiah Fall Invitational with a score of 321. “We look very strong,” Sam White ’14, who did not play in Monday’s tournament, said in an email. “We didn’t lose any players from last year and [with the new first-year players] there will be some healthy competition for the top five starting positions. The team will certainly improve from having so much depth. “This will be the last year that we have co-captains Paul Weston and Alex Nichamin, so we want to take advantage of the experience and depth we have now.” Swarthmore takes a week off from tournament play, then returns to action on Saturday, October 8 at the McDaniel Fall Invitational. The tournament will be held at Bridges Golf Club, and the start time is to be announced.

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