April 25, 2008
2008 Patriot League Golf Championship Page
Center Valley, Pa. - The Patriot League Golf Championship comes to the Lehigh Valley on Saturday and Sunday, as the seven teams will vie for the title at the Grace Course at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. Bucknell is in search of its third consecutive League title, while Holy Cross' Matt Czarnecki tries to win the Individual Championship for the second year in a row.
The Patriot League Championship is a two-day, 54-hole event with 36 holes set for Saturday and 18 for Sunday. Golfers will start to tee off at 8 a.m. on both days and will be playing from the black tees. Six golfers will compete for each team, with the low four scores in each round used for team scoring. The winner of the event receives an automatic bid to one of the three NCAA Regionals, held on the weekend of May 15-17.
Bucknell is trying to become the third school in League annals to win three consecutive League Championships, hoping to join Army who won the first six titles from 1991-95 and Navy who claimed three in a row from 1998-01. The Bison earned their two Patriot League crowns in 2006 and 2007, and were the preseason pick of coaches and sports information directors to take the 2008 title. The Bison took the top spot out of 25 teams at the Lafayette Invitational on April 12-13, in a field that included Lehigh, Lafayette and Colgate. They boast last year's Patriot League Co-Rookie of the Year, Andrew Cohen, and October Player of the Month Rahul Desai. Senior Keita Aoki was a Second-Team All-Patriot League pick a year ago.
Picked to finish second in the preseason poll, Navy has momentum entering the Championship. The Mids were victorious in their own Invitational last week, coming in first place in a field of 18 that also included Bucknell, Lafayette, Lehigh and Colgate. They also recorded a third-place showing at the George Washington Invitational in March. Navy placed second in last year's Patriot League Championship, finishing just three strokes behind Bucknell. Chris Renninger returns after finishing just one shot behind Czarnecki last year, while Chip Hardie is back after a Second-Team All-Patriot League honor in 2007. The Mids have won the Patriot League Championship four times, with the most recent coming in 2003 at Saucon Valley.
Army is coming on strong as well, as the Black Knights placed second in the 18-team Mount St. Mary's Invitational last weekend. Freshman Matt Krembel claimed the individual title in that event, and joins a roster that has Patrick Beverly, Sam Walenz and Matthew Hanlon back after earning Second-Team All-Patriot League honors a year ago. The Black Knights have nine titles to their name, and are in search of their first crown since 2005. They finished in third place, just five shots behind Bucknell, in 2007.
Lehigh is the host school for the event, and will play at the site where it won the first of its two Patriot League titles in 1996. The Mountain Hawks come into the event after winning the four-team Lehigh Valley Collegiate Invitational on Tuesday. They return 2007 Co-Rookie of the Year Stephen Suarez. The Mountain Hawks placed fourth a year ago, but were only seven shots off the pace.
Colgate, Holy Cross and Lafayette are all in search of their first Championship. The Raiders boast two-time Patriot League Player of the Month Ricky Hayes, who won the award for his efforts in September and March. Holy Cross's Czarnecki is trying to become just the second Patriot Leaguer to win two Individual Championships, as Bucknell's Charles Waddell pulled it off in 2005 and 2006. Czarnecki won last year's event with a score of 212, which is tied for the ninth-best mark in Patriot League Championship history. Lafayette had a 10th-place finish out of 25 teams at its Invitational two weeks ago.
Most Outstanding Player honors will go to the top finisher at the League Championship, while Rookie of the Year recognition is given to the top freshman finisher. Coach of the Year honors are selected by the League's head coaches. There will also be a 10-member All-League team, with the top five finishers earning First-Team status and sixth through 10th place receiving Second-Team honors.
Patriot League teams have become familiar with each other during the spring season, with a mix of results in fields that featured multiple League squads. Navy finished ahead of Bucknell, Colgate, Lehigh and Lafayette at the George Washington Invitational and the Navy Invitational. Bucknell won the Lafayette Invitational in a field that included Lafayette, Lehigh and Colgate, and also placed ahead of Army at the First Market Bank Intercollegiate. Army finished ahead of Navy at the Lacrosse Homes Collegiate. Colgate was ahead of Holy Cross and Lafayette in the Yale Spring Opener, while Lehigh placed first and Lafayette second in Tuesday's Lehigh Valley Collegiate Invitational.
Lehigh hosts the Patriot League Championship at Saucon Valley Country Club for the third time, as the event was previously played there in 1996 and 2003. Lehigh won the team title in 1996, while Navy won the crown in 2003.
Individual tee times and more information can be found at the Patriot League Golf Championship page by clicking here