For the first time in a decade, the University of Rhode Island men’s golf team won the New England Championships at the Newport National Golf Club in Middletown over the weekend thanks to a full-team effort that saw four of five golfers finish within the top 10.
Junior Makenzie Denver finished the event in first place out of 25 total golfers with a two-round tally of 147, including just 73 shots in his second day of play, which tied his lowest total of the spring season. It was Denver’s second tournament win. He won the ECAC Championship earlier this year in September. The performance was good enough to earn him Atlantic 10 Golfer of the Week honors.
Fellow classman Joe Leavitt and sophomore Billy Walthouse both finished just one stroke behind Denver tying for second place with 148 strokes. Each of the two had a 75 in the first round before improving to a 73 on the second. To round out top 10 scores, junior Nick Fairweather came in eighth with a two-day score of 152. Senior Seamus Fennelly rounded out the Rams scoring with a tie for 20th place after shooting 159 on the weekend.
“Quite honestly, I wasn’t surprised,” Rhode Island head coach Gregg Burke said. “We’ve been playing great golf, but haven’t been scoring well. This week we played great golf and scored well. Makenzie won, which is great for him, but this was a team victory. They played with each other and that’s why we won.”
After mixing up his five-man rotation all of fall semester to try and find the best competitive balance, Coach Burke said that the team has performed well this semester, especially Denver, Leavitt and Walthouse.
The Rams outlasted competition with a total score of 595. Bryant was second with 607 total strokes followed by Fordham with 623, UMass-Lowell with 623 and Holy Cross with 647. It was their third first-place finish as a team this season and fifth time in the top five.
With just three more days of competition in the form of the Atlantic 10 Championship, Coach Burke said that, though he is happy about the win, he wants the team to take last weekend’s performance to continue to improve week after week. He expects his squad to consistently improve and play quality golf against some tough competition.
“Being New England champs is a wonderful, wonderful thing, but it doesn’t get us to the NCAA Tournament, winning the A-10s does,” he said. “We’re going to have to play very well,… but we’re going out there to compete with the best of them.”
The Rams will compete in the A-10 Championship on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Harmony Golf Preserve in Harmony, Florida, to round out the season.