By Sam Belden
The Fordham golf team returned to action this week, sending six players to Malvern, Pennsylvania to compete in the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Villanova. While the Rams were in second place at one point during the final round, they struggled down the stretch and wound up in seventh place, 12 strokes behind the winning Lehigh squad.
The team spent its spring break in Florida, where the golfers logged some serious practice time on a group of courses that included PGA National, host of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic. As a result, they had high hopes for their first event of the spring, and while they came away with a program-best finish at White Manor Country Club, the performance will still register as a disappointment.
Even with the final round fade, however, the team will take away some positives from the event. Junior Matt Schiller shot rounds of 70 and 72 to tie for sixth on the individual leaderboard. After making five birdies during Monday’s first round, the Cincinnati native had a chance to win the first event of his career, but he stalled on Tuesday, breaking par just once on the day.
The Rams also got solid performances from senior Oscar Cabanas, who was tied with Schiller after his opening 70 but faded to a tie for 17th on Tuesday, and junior James Mongey, who signed for twin 73s to tie for 25th.
Junior Joseph Trim, the only Fordham player with an individual win in the last five years, had an off week, shooting rounds of 76 and 74 to tie for 48th. Meanwhile, freshman Tomas Nieves struggled in his first event as a Ram and tied for 73rd, rounding out the scoring for Fordham.
Sophomore Tommy Hayes, playing as an individual, finished with the same score as Trim. His second round 72 included an ace on the 165-yard eighth hole, and he ultimately vaulted 29 spots up the leaderboard on Tuesday.
Lehigh made a final round charge to win the event, mostly thanks to sterling scores of 67 and 68 from Johnny Hsu and Billy Johns, respectively. The Mountain Hawks managed to pass Delaware and Villanova for their first tournament win in nearly four years.
Hsu shared medalist honors with Patrick Luth of Cleveland State and Connor Daly of Villanova. Villanova’s Lucas Trim, brother of Fordham’s Joseph Trim, also had a good week, shooting rounds of 70 and 72 to tie for sixth.
With the first event of their spring season in the books, the Rams will now turn their attention towards their next event, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of the Lehigh Valley Collegiate Invitational. Last year, the team got three strong individual performances and finished first out of 19 teams at Silver Creek Country Club, and the upcoming title defense will probably be its best chance for a victory this season. The opening tee time is set for Sunday morning.