2017-18 Men's Golf Season Preview

Senior Joe Ko and the Panthers open their season this weekend when they host the Middlebury Fall Classic in Lake Placid, New York.
Senior Joe Ko and the Panthers open their season this weekend when they host the Middlebury Fall Classic in Lake Placid, New York.

Following a strong conclusion to last season, the Middlebury men's golf team enters the upcoming year seeking its third NCAA Tournament bid in the last four campaigns. Winners of five of the last seven NESCAC Championships as well as a runner-up effort last year, the Panthers are primed to contend again in 2017-18.

Middlebury is guided by Bill Beaney, who is in his 24th year and has been recognized as the NESCAC Coach of the Year three times (2014, 2015, 2016). The Panthers have a strong core of players returning as well as some newcomers who could battle for a spot in the lineup.

The Panthers will be without the trio of juniors Philippe Morin, Reid Buzby and Ben Bichet, each of who will be studying abroad during the fall semester.

Morin and Buzby anchored the top of Middlebury's lineup a season ago. Both players earned All-NESCAC Second Team accolades as well as being named to the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) PING Northeast All-Region Team.

Morin, a two-time All-NESCAC and GCAA PING Northeast All-Region Team honoree, finished in the top-nine spots in seven of the eight tournaments in which he entered. A Division III All-Rookie Team recipient in 2015-16, he fired a two-day score of 143 (71-72) during the Duke Nelson Invitational followed by a mark of 144 (71-73) in the Williams Fall Invitational to earn individual runner-up places. Morin capped the year carding a 150 (73-77) during the NESCAC Championships for a sixth-place tie.

Buzby was a consistent force in the Panther lineup last fall, finishing in the top-14 spots during all eight tournaments. His best finish for the Panthers was a first-place effort at the season-opening Middlebury Fall Classic (72-74-146). He also tied for medalist honors during the Ekwanok Tournament in the middle of October with a 75. Senior Joe Ko posted two top-15 finishes in the spring, including a tie for eighth at the Williams Spring Invitational (76-74-150).

Other returning Panthers who will compete for spots in the lineup this season are junior David McDaniel as well as Bichet, who both saw time in the lineup last year. Senior Bennett Doherty also provides experienced depth after not competing last season.

The Panthers will be busy in the early stages of the season, hosting two events. Middlebury will serve as the host institution for the Middlebury Fall Classic, a match-play format tournament, on September 9-10 in Lake Placid, New York. The following weekend, the Panthers will entertain numerous teams from across the region during the 34th annual Duke Nelson Invitational at the Ralph Myhre Golf Course. After a trip to the Williams Fall Invitational, the Panthers will take part in the NESCAC Qualifier on September 30 and October 1 hosted by Trinity. The fall portion of the schedule concludes on October 10 at the Ekwanok Tournament in Manchester, Vermont.