The University of Rhode Island golf team battled harsh weather conditions at the East Carolina Intercollegiate in a tournament where high rounds and sloppy play was the norm, as the Rams grabbed sixth place on the strength of junior Billy Walthouse.
Fourteen teams and nearly 80 golfers completed two rounds on Monday, and then a final round on Tuesday. The Rams, despite an uneven card of golfers, went into the second day in fourth place, but already 40 strokes off the pace of hometown favorite and eventual winner East Carolina University (+16 par). The Rams tallied a final score of +65 par, which although it was not what head coach Gregg Burke set out to do, was something he accepted as the conditions presented an abundance of challenges.
“It was incredibly windy with devilish pin positions so that why scores for the entire field were high,” Burke said. “We were better prepared for the 32-degree wind chill than most schools obviously. When it gets that windy, we simply preach patience.”
URI was led by Walthouse, who tied for eleventh place after surging to shoot a round-three best even par 72.
“What Billy did in the third round appears remarkable, but it really wasn’t,” Burke said. “He had the best score in the entire field. He should. I think he was the best player in the field. He was 10 over on three holes, having cost himself five shots with two atypical errors. He was even for the other 51 holes. He will learn from that and continue to improve. He is one of the 100 best players in college golf. Period.”
In addition to Walthouse, the Rams were aided by redshirt senior Seamus Fennelly, who in his first action of the year, placed 32nd overall. Fellow senior Makenzie Denver tied for 43rd with freshman teammate Dawson Jones with captain Joe Leavitt one stroke behind (+22 par). It was an especially grueling tournament for Denver, who despite not being in full health, was still able to card a serviceable score that gave the Rams a chance for a top-five finish.
“Makenzie played 54 holes with back spasms and we need to get him healthy,” Burke said. “In my mind we have two players who we are sure will be in the top five for the Rhode Island Invitational. If Makenzie is healthy, he is our third. We have to assess who can help us win the tournament and not just who had a total score better than some else in our last few tournaments.”
The Rams break for two weeks, and then host the invitational at the Quidnessett Country Club.