Date Posted:09/27/2006,  4:00PM

2006 NESCAC Golf Championship Preview

BRUNSWICK, Maine - Williams College, the two-time defending NESCAC Golf Champions, will look to earn its third consecutive title and 10th overall this weekend when the Ephs join the rest of the conference in picturesque Maine for the 2006 NESCAC Golf Championship. The two-day, 36-hole championship will be hosted by Bowdoin College at the Brunswick Golf Club in Brunswick. The first group will tee off on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 10:30 a.m., with the championship concluding on Sunday, Oct. 1.

Winners of five of the last six NESCAC Golf titles, Williams earned the 2005 NESCAC Golf crown over Hamilton by seven strokes, the largest margin of victory since the 2001 championship. The Ephs will face a stiff challenge to repeat this season, with the loss of Matt Slovitt to graduation combined with a strong field of teams that all participated in the Bowdoin Invitational at the Brunswick Golf Club only a few weeks ago. The leadership of senior Kevin Kellert (Toms River, N.J.), who finished in a two-way tie for third at last season's championship at the Taconic Golf Club, will play a vital role for Williams, and so far in 2006 he has performed admirably. Kellert has steadily improved throughout the month of September, opening the season with an Eph-best two-day total of 155 and finishing in a tie for 12th at the Bowdoin Invitational, followed by a 15th place showing (151) at the Duke Nelson Invitational two weeks ago and an eighth place finish (147) at the Williams Invitational this past weekend. Newcomer Tyler Zara (New Canaan, Conn.) has also had an impressive September for the Ephs and will look to improve upon his mark of 161 at the Bowdoin Invitational this weekend. Zara, a sophomore that did not compete with Williams last season, recently finished tied for ninth (148) at the Williams Invitational, helping the Ephs finish fourth overall in the tournament, the highest finish among NESCAC teams at the event.

The team that many will be talking about at this year's championship will be Hamilton, after the Continentals won the Bowdoin Invitational on Sept. 9-10 with a team score of 604. Hamilton, which last won a NESCAC Golf title in 2003, has had some strong individual perfor-mances over the past month. Sophomore Dave Christie (New Canaan, Conn.) took home medalist honors from the Bowdoin Invitational after finishing in a two-way tie for first with a total of 144 and then winning a one-hole playoff. Junior Mike Hayes (Homer, N.Y.) finished third at the Bowdoin Invitational with a score of 146 before earning medalist honors at the one-day Mike Bello Invitational on Sept. 14 and the Duke Nelson Invitational a few days later, finishing one-under with a score of 141. Both golfers finished among the leaders at last year's championship, however the Continentals will need an all-around strong performance if they wish to win another event at Brunswick this season.

Looking to improve upon a fourth-place finish at last year's championship will be Middlebury. The Panthers were the closest NESCAC squad to Hamilton at the Bowdoin Invitational earlier this month, finishing nine strokes back in fourth place. Senior Chad Bellmare (Bedford, N.Y.) along with junior George Baumann (Mequon, Wis.) and sophomore Harrison Bane (Marblehead, Mass.) will lead the charge for the Panthers and their quest to win the NESCAC crown for the first time since 1999. Bellmare was the top finisher for Middlebury at the Duke Nelson Invitational (148, T-6), helping his squad to a fourth-place finish, while Baumann finished fifth at the Bowdoin Invitational with a score of 151. Bane will look to repeat his performance from last season's NESCAC championship, after he finished second with a score of 149 and earned NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors.

Other squads to watch at this weekend's championship include Trinity and Tufts. The Bantams turned a few heads during last year's tournament at Williams after finishing in third place, the highest finish ever for Trinity at the NESCAC championship. Senior George Boudria (Mendham, N.J.), who earned NESCAC Player of the Year last season by medaling at the 2005 championship with a score of 147, enters the weekend fresh off a 15th-place showing at the Williams Invitational (150), behind only Kellert and Zara of Williams among NESCAC participants at the event. Tufts finished third among NESCAC teams at the Bowdoin Invitational, spurred by the 10th-place showing of sophomore Pat Sullivan (Bedford, Mass.) with a score of 154.

Established in 1888, the course now known as the Brunswick Golf Club is a challenging and well-conditioned 18-hole gem that is consid-ered by many as one of the best that mid-costal Maine has to offer. The course was originally only nine holes, designed by the tandem of John Van Kleek and Wayne Stiles in 1925, the same two that designed the Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, Mass. During the 1960s, the Brunswick Golf Club was extended to 18 holes by the craftsmanship of Geoffrey Cornish. The two nines feature completely contrasting styles, with the Cornish front nine being the longer of the two and having the ability to test every club at a linksman's disposal at a par-37. The Van Kleek/Stiles-designed back nine, a par-35, is a shorter, more open test with plenty of birdie opportunities. The championship scorecard for the course is a par-72 that totals 6,543 yards.

- Release courtesy of NESCAC