Peter Williamson '12 wins third career Ivy Player of the Year

by JOHN MELVIN | 5/9/12 10:00pm

The Dartmouth men's golf team narrowly missed out on a prime opportunity to claim the Ivy League title last week at Galloway National Golf Club, as the Big Green fell to the University of Pennsylvania in the third sudden-death playoff hole. Unfortunately for Dartmouth, the team's quest to take Ivy League gold next year will be hurt greatly by the loss of Peter Williamson '12, who will be graduating this June.

The mind-boggling statistics and frequent tournament victories became something almost to be expected as Williamson's career progressed. After this year's Ivy League Championship, in which Williamson won by eight strokes in the individual field, he was unanimously selected as the Ivy League Player of the Year for golf. It was the third time in his four-year career that Williamson has earned the honor.

Williamson currently leads all NCAA golfers in scoring average with 70 strokes, even better than the world's top-ranked amateur Patrick Cantlay of the University of California, Los Angeles, who boasts an average of 71.

This year's individual championship marked Williamson's third, including a dramatic sudden-death victory to claim his first championship when he was only a freshman. Williamson joined Yale University's Bob Heintz as one of only two players in Ivy League history to win three individual championships. Heintz would continue on to have a successful career on the Nationwide and Professional Golfers' Association tours.

"It's an honor to be in elite company, especially with a player like Bob," Williamson said. "Knowing where Bob has gone with his career, it's nice to see all the practice I'm putting in pay off."

Williamson's career of winning started before he became a Dartmouth student. Williamson, a Hanover native, led the Hanover High School golf team that won the state championship all four years while he was on the team. Williamson claimed the individual state title in his senior year.

Williamson was not heavily recruited out of high school, however and accepted an offer to play for Dartmouth under head coach Rich Parker. Williamson was instantly successful in his first two years playing for the Big Green. His sophomore year culminated with All-Ivy first team honors and his first selection to the Academic All-Ivy League team.

Williamson went on to win these awards multiple times, and claiming the remaining two Ivy League Individual Championships in which he competed. Perhaps Williamson's best contributions have been the ones that have improved the Big Green golf program as a whole, even more so than his individual accomplishments.

"Having Pete as a captain and knowing that he is open to play with freshmen on the team is amazing," teammate Dan Knight '15 said. "I've been able to turn to him so many times on the course for help with my swing or the strategy on the course."

As a Hanover resident, Williamson grew up rooting for the Big Green hockey team, and his father was a Dartmouth alumnus. Part of the reason he decided to play for the Big Green was his desire to help the program grow.

"Being able to represent this school is an honor and privilege," Williamson said. "Coming to school and making a difference in this program so that this team makes steps forward is one of my biggest accomplishments of my career."

The recent success of the program has given it an edge with recruiting, according to Knight.

"Recruits get a chance to play with Pete, and they are convinced that this program is real and has a lot to offer," he said.

Williamson will continue to compete throughout the spring, including in the U.S. Open Qualifier and the U.S. Amateur Championship, which will feature the 312 best amateur golfers in the country. Williamson is currently ranked among the top 100 of U.S. amateurs. For the long-term future, Williamson said he is clear about his plans.

"I'm going to be headed down south for about a year so I can play golf all year around and see just how good I can get," Williamson said. "I believe I have the skills and ability to compete at the top level."

Williamson is trying to break onto the PGA Tour, a notoriously difficult professional circuit to gain entry into. Given Williamson's past performance and superior dedication, nothing seems to be out of reach for the most accomplished golfer in Dartmouth history.