The University of Rhode Island men’s golf team placed seventh out of 19 teams competing at the Hartford Hawks Invitational on Monday and Tuesday, with senior Billy Walthouse leading the way for the Rams by a score of -3.

Rhode Island tallied a combined score of 578 (+2) following two rounds of play at the Bull’s Bridge Golf Club in South Kent, Conn., finishing twenty strokes off the winning pace set by California Polytechnic State University (-18). URI started off slow tallying a +2 par on Monday that put them in a tie for fifth, but made up for it on Tuesday, finishing even with a score of 288. The field as a whole improved as well though, which led to the Rams losing ground with a finish of seventh place.

Rhode Island faced quality competition during their time at the Hartford Hawks Invitational. In addition to Cal Poly, the other opponents finishing above Rhode Island were the University of Central Florida (-15), Seton Hall University (-11), Sam Houston State University (-6), the University of Connecticut (-5), and Towson University (-1).

“This was one of the best fields this tournament has ever had,” head coach Gregg Burke said. “We wanted to finish in the top three of this tournament. We didn’t accomplish that, but to go +2 (par) is a major improvement from where our program was the last time we played here.” Walthouse moved into a five-way tie for twelfth on the strength of a second-round score of 69, while University of Central Florida’s Donnie Trosper was seven strokes better with a -10 par to clinch the individual tournament win.  Sophomore Dawson Jones also had a good showing at the invitational, tying for 22nd place, and shooting an even 72 in both of his rounds.

“Currently we have two seniors and a graduate student in the starting lineup, that gives us a lot of leadership and experience,” Burke said. “I have tremendous confidence in Dawson Jones, he’s played as well as anyone on the team this year. He and the other younger guys have learned a ton from our upperclassmen.”

Next up for URI is the Quechee Club Collegiate Challenge in Quechee, Vermont, beginning on Saturday. With one first place finish already in the books for Burke and his team, they look to build on an already promising start.

“This weekend is going to be a shorter golf course compared to what we just played, so we really need to prepare for the change in size, and be more precise in our decision making,” Burke said. At this stage of our program we go into each tournament expecting to finish in the top third, especially during tournaments with this level competition.”