April 25, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. - The Army golf team, seeking its 11th conference title, will compete in the Patriot League Championships, Saturday and Sunday at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.
The 54-hole event features 36 holes on Saturday and 18 on Sunday. Tee times begin Saturday at 8 a.m., with the second round scheduled for 1:15 p.m. The final round will start at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
Army, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh and Navy will compete for the championship. Six golfers will compete for each school with the low four scores counting for the team title. The winning team earns the Patriot League's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Army has won a league-best 10 championships, the last in 2010 at the U.S. Naval Academy Golf Course. Army won the first six titles in league history from 1991 through 1995 and also claimed team championships in 2002 and 2005.
The Black Knights have also crowned the individual champion in each of the last two years. Matt Krembel took home the 2011 championship while William Park was last year's winner. Park earned a spot at the NCAAs as the individual winner and competed in the Ann Arbor Regional where he tied for 41st.
Krembel, Park, Pat Mullin (1991), John Lyons (1992), Trey Owen (1993), Mike Sessa (1994), Cullen Barbato (1995) and Scott Manley (2002) are the eight Army golfers to win the individual championship.
The low five scorers and ties will be named First-Team All-Patriot League while the sixth through 10th-place finishers earn Second-Team accolades. The overall winner is named the Player of the Year and the freshman with the lowest score is tabbed Rookie of the Year. Coach of the Year honors will be distributed as well.
Army will make the trek to the Lehigh Valley Thursday evening and play a practice round on Friday in preparation for the tournament.
"We feel like we are preparing the right way," said Army coach Brian Watts, the 2010 Coach of the Year. "We are putting the guys in situations on the golf course, putting pressure on their game that feels like competitive tournaments. We will need two or three guys to step up and play well for us."
Senior Matt Philie, juniors Brandon Baerwaldt and Harrison Florence, sophomore Robby Hill and freshmen Marcus Plunkett and Brandon Roberts will compete for the Black Knights.
Philie, Army's lone Rookie of the Year, was a first-team All-League selection in 2010 as well. He has played 15 rounds this year with an average score of 77 with one top-10 finish.
Plunkett, who won the Last Chance Classic at West Point two weeks ago, is averaging a 76 through 24 rounds. Hill shares the team-lead with Plunkett in rounds played with 24 and averages a 79. He has one top-five finish this year.
Baerwaldt has played in 16 rounds and shows a 79 average with a top-five placing, while Roberts has competed in 17 rounds with an 82 average and one top-10 finish. Florence has played in 16 rounds with an 80 average.
TOURNAMENT NOTES: Lehigh is the host team of this year's Patriot League Championship ... Army had three straight Player of the Year honorees from 1991-93 when Pat Mullin, John Lyons and Trey Owens won the event ... Army has had a league-best 59 All-League selections including 49 first-team selections ... Army's Kevin Lee (2002) and Bucknell's Ben Petticani (2005) both shot 65s, the lowest round score in a league championships ... Mike Sessa's ace in 1995 is the lone hole-in-one ever carded during the league championship.