CMS Men's Golf Ties for Third at NCAA Championships for Second Straight Year
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's golf team had a blistering front nine to surge from seventh place into a two-shot lead, but Carnegie Mellon had a surge of its own to overtake the Stags, who ended up finishing tied for third at the NCAA Division III Championships on Friday at the Keene Trace Golf Club.
The third-place tie finish was the second in a row for the Stags, which also shared the bronze trophy a year ago. It matches the second-best finish in program history, behind the national title won by the 2016 team. CMS was in second late, but Piedmont's Josh Hebrink had an eagle on the 17th to move one stroke ahead of the Stags.
CMS made a furious run up the leaderboard to nearly bring home a second national title. The Stags were in 15th place after the first round, and then moved up to ninth on Wednesday, and seventh on Thursday, before teeing off in the first group on Friday, 11 shots behind Methodist.
CMS started fast, with no bogeys and three birdies collectively in its first 26 holes, before an eagle from Kevin Jiang on the fifth dropped the CMS score to -5 on the day and left the Stags just three shots out of first.
Vikram Chatterjee then led the Stags into a first-place tie with a -4 stretch over three holes, picking up a birdie on No. 6, a birdie on No. 7, and then an eagle on No. 8. Will Parker then followed with three straight birdies at the turn on No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10, and when Jiang and Chatterjee both birdied No. 12, the Stags were at even par, -11 on the day, and two shots ahead of the field.
Carnegie Mellon ended up with a similar stretch, though, as all five of its players birdied the eighth hole. Brian Xu then shot -6 on the back nine with an eagle on No. 18 to help CMU seal the team title with all four of its top finishers ending on the top-20 of the individual leaderboard and leaving them as the only team in the field to finish in the red at -1. Methodist ended tied with CMS at +6 for third, with Saint John's (Minn.) in fifth at +8.
Chatterjee (-4), Parker (-2) and Jiang (-2) all finished in the red for their final rounds, with Chatterjee working his way back to even par for the tournament, tying for 14th. Jiang finished at +1 in a tie for 17th. While Joshua Kwon finished +3 and in 23rd, out of the 220 golfers that started the tournament. Collectively, CMS had its best round of the four-round tournament with a 283 (-5). The Stags were also in the red on Wednesday at -3.
The Stags will attempt to get back to the national stage next year, although they will need to replace Chatterjee and Parker from the senior class after the duo led CMS to two straight SCIAC titles and two straight NCAA top-three finishes in their two full seasons of competition.