In their first time competing in regulation golf since October, the University of Rhode Island golf team finished the Florida Atlantic University Slomin Autism Invite in 17th place out of 20 teams, kicking off their spring schedule this weekend.
While Rhode Island only finished ahead of three other teams with 902 total strokes, the team was led by the play of sophomore Billy Walthouse, who finished the event with the 26th fewest strokes out of 114 total golfers with 220. In the three rounds, he tallied just 69 strokes in the opening round, followed by second- and third-round totals of 77 and 74. He also had three birdies in the back nine on Sunday.
The Rams still have three competitions left in the upcoming weeks, but weather has kept the team from being able to practice outdoors. In addition to last weekend’s invitational, the Rams were also in Florida on March 19th for an exhibition against Northwood University.
“The only time we’ve been outdoors, we were in Florida for six rounds the week before, and then we had another practice round, so we only had seven rounds outdoors before we played,” Rhode Island head coach Gregg Burke said. “Billy really solidified himself as the number one player on the team though. Billy will be fine.”
Junior Joe Leavitt, normally one of the top competitors on the team, was hampered by a hand injury he suffered during practice rounds two weeks ago. On Friday, he finished with 77, followed by 83 in the second round on Saturday. He closed play with a 78 on Sunday to bring his weekend total to 238 strokes and earned 100th place.
Coach Burke said that the injury does not seem like anything too serious and that he expected Leavitt would be told to rest and use ice and a little bit of physical therapy when he met with the team’s trainer on Monday.
Fellow junior Makenzie Denver finished the tournament in 43rd place with postings of 73, 74 and 76 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively. His second day score was a 3-over and marked the best second-round result of any Rhode Island golfer.
Senior Seamus Fennelly played his best golf in the final round with a 2-over par 73. He had 75 and 77 in each of the first two rounds, earning himself 51st in the standings. Junior Nick Fairweather finished in 102nd place and collected 239 total strokes from 79 in each of the first two days and 81 in the final. Despite the team’s low placing in the invite, Coach Burke said that he was happy with the way the team played, though he wished they scored better.
“This is the hardest working team I’ve had so far,” he said. “We’ve been working indoors and our boys have been hitting pretty well.”
The Rams will pick up play on April 11 in Connecticut when they start the UConn Husky Northeast Invitational at the Mohegan Sun Country Club.
“The kinds of teams we’ll play are the teams we traditionally play at different points in the fall and spring, so we’ll really have a sense of who we are by then,” Burke said. “…We’ll see how we do.”