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The Dartmouth
June 17, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Golfers earn bid for East Regional

Just when they thought their season was done, and just when the Hanover Country Club was open and ready for play, the men's golf team learned that they earned a spot at the NCAA East Regional Championship. The Big Green are one of the three teams from District 1 selected to play at the 54-hole tournament to be held on May 18-20.

The tournament is hosted by Temple University and will be played at Glenmaura National Golf Club in Moosic, Pa.

The other teams representing District 1 are Yale and Rhode Island. The district includes 15 teams in New England, as well as Army.

The Big Green golfers will compete against 22 other teams from Districts 1, 2 and 3, four at-large teams, five individuals from District 3 and one individual chosen from the East Region.

The NCAA also conducts two other regionals in the Central and West. In all, 421 golfers will compete, with 156 moving on to the National Championship on May 31-June 3 in Opelika, Al.

The Big Green will send five golfers to the tournament -- captain Chris Welty '00, Lee Birchall '02, Jeronimo Esteve '03, Kyle Song '01 and Andrew Piscano '02.

Welty, an academic All-Ivy selection for the past two years, has won two tournaments this year while averaging 75.8 in 17 rounds of competition.

Birchall has also made a name for himself quickly. He has been named first team All-Ivy in his first two years on the Big Green squad. He is averaging 76.3 strokes per round this season.

"This is what we've been working for all year, it's a great honor to be chosen to represent the New England District in the regionals," Birchall said. "We're really excited about getting to play against the best teams in the country, and we're anxious to see how we measure up against them."

Considering Hanover, with its long, cold winters and short golf season, is not exactly a golf mecca, the Big Green golf program has a bit of history in the NCAA. The last team to qualify was the 1981 squad, but Dartmouth also sent teams to the NCAA's in 1940, 1941, 1946 and 1958.

During Coach Bill Johnson's 33-year tenure as golf coach, several individual golfers have made the tournament. Most recently, it was MacKenzie Hurd '98, who represented Dartmouth in 1995.

Typical of a senior leader, Welty sees the berth as a chance to gain exposure for the Big Green golf program.

"This is the tournament I've been wanting to play in since my freshman year. But as great an end as it is to my career, it's even better for the future of this golf program. Getting national exposure like this will open up a lot of opportunities for the next couple of years."