It was nearly exactly a year ago to the date that the Seton Hall men’s golf team registered a 4th place finish at the Alex Lagowitz Memorial Tournament in upstate Hamilton, New York. They were headed in their efforts by a freshman playing in his first ever collegiate tournament -- Devin Ramachandran, whose heady play landed him in a tie for fourth place on the leaderboards, the top number for any Pirate in the tournament.
Sept. 8 and Sept. 9, 2018 marked the two dates of initial play last year. Fast-forward 364 days to Sept. 7, 2019, and thus began the 2019-20 season for the golf team; at the same exact tournament. The Pirates are just coming off a 3rd place finish at last year’s Big East tournament, and have all indications of making another successful run come playoff time this year as well.
There is a certain air of excitement that is buzzing around the locker room surrounding the addition of three new golfers: James Bosworth, Ian Lee, and Wenliang Xie. The Bosworth bloodline runs deep in Seton Hall golf, both his father and uncle have won Big East titles for the Pirates, and the youngest is more than ready to place his own stamp in the program. Xie is a freshman who dominated the California circuit in his high school days, also having seen plenty of international competition in his home country of China. Lee is the lone transfer. A former All-Conference performer at Loyola University New Orleans, he adds both depth and experience to the roster.
They have huge shoes to fill, though, and that might be an understatement.
Gen Nagai finished his Seton Hall career as one of the best to ever do it at the school. A two-time All-Big East first teamer and an All-Tournament recipient in 2017, he graduated Seton Hall as the second all-time placeholder in total rounds and sub-par rounds, while registering the third all-time stroke average (73.63) in one of the most storied careers Seton Hall golf has ever seen. His loss was undoubtedly a big hit for the Pirates, and his absence will be sorely missed. It’s made that much worse, however, by the other player the team will be without this season.
Nagai’s classmate had a resume that was just as impressive as his own. Chris Yeom also graduated amongst Seton Hall’s greats upon the culmination of his career, which was highlighted by an All-Big East second team nod, two first team nominations, and a 2018 Big East runner up finish. Yeom, like Nagai, left South Orange with his name appearing multiple times in Seton Hall record books, including ending his career second all-time in career stroke average (73.58) and the sixth lowest single season stroke average in Pirate history.
So there are not one, but two gaping holes missing from last year’s roster, and this year’s Pirate team knew they would need to get out to a strong start to make up for what was lost.
Beginning play with 10 golfers representing two respective “A” and “B” squads, Xie, Alex Chalk, and Gregor Tait were the first to show up and show out early, all firing even pars in the onset of round one. The A squad finished the first round at 290, good for second place on the day. They fizzled out in the second round though, although Tait and junior Andres Acevedo fired a one over par, the best Pirate score came from the B squad and senior Alex McAuley (72). Round three was a much better fare, as the Pirates were able to calmly bounce back from a (figuratively) sup-par previous round, and finish 5th at 298, with both Chalk and Tait firing their second even 72. The round was good enough to give the A squad a 290-297-298-885 total score, good for 21 over par – and (which sounds much better if said this way) a third place finish - the first top five placing for Seton Hall on the year. The B squad finished 18th, shooting a collective 315-300-313-928.
A third-place finish brings smiles no doubt, but there is still much room for improvement, and the team will have a chance to do that in their next action at the Hartford Invitational beginning Sept. 16.
Justin Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter @Justin_JM12