Wildcats take fifth in larger Big East Golf Championships

Max Petrunya

The Villanova wildcats’ men’s golf team tied for fifth place with the Cincinnati Bearcats in the men’s Big East Golf Championship tournament this Tuesday at the Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club in Dade City, Fla.

With an overall record of 71-23-1 (15-5-1 in the Big East), the Wildcats drew the sixth seed in this week’s tournament.  Anchored by terrific play from junior Steve Arnold, the Wildcats were able to finish tied for fifth with new Big East member Cincinnati, the same result the team netted in last year’s tournament.

“This tournament capped off an incredible season for Villanova golf, and showed the incredible strides the program has made this year,” senior captain Jonathan Hewett said. “We pushed each other to get better all season, and this week showed that we can compete with any team.”

Arnold, a junior from Langhorne, Pa., shot an even par 72 on Tuesday, finishing with a three round score of three-under-par (213).  He is the team’s leading scorer for the season with a 72.69 stroke average in 2005-2006.  

He was the only Villanova player to finish in the top 10 for the tournament, ending in a three way tie for eighth place with two golfers from the eventual tournament champion Notre Dame. Arnold’s 213 was one stroke out of seventh place, falling just short of earning him All-Big East honors.

Freshman Doug Stadler had the team’s low score on Tuesday, shooting a one under 71.   Hewett and freshman Andrew Alexander helped round out Tuesday’s final four carded scores for the Wildcats, shooting 74 and 76 respectively.

Villanova finished one stroke ahead of St. John’s and 14 strokes behind fourth-place Big East newcomer South Florida.  The Wildcats’ fifth place finish is the same finish they had in last season’s conference tournament, despite the doubling of this year’s Big East field from six teams to 12.

Notre Dame would go on to win the championship after beating Louisville in a one hole sudden-death playoff, Fighting Irish golfer Josh Sandman, who finished the tournament tied for 20th (one stroke behind Villanova’s Jonathan Hewett), birdied to give Notre Dame the win.

“It was an extremely successful season,” Hewett said. Villanova golf has seen more success this year, and done things for the program that haven’t been done before.

The Wildcats, who lose just three seniors next season, Hewett, Colin Mahon and Henry Watson, will officially conclude their season this Friday and Saturday April 28 and 29 at the Scott Duncan Invitational in Middletown, Del.

As for the future of the program, Hewett believes “the sky is the limit. With juniors Steve Arnold and Brock Bergman returning, and the talented underclassman helping out, Villanova golf should be able to compete for the title next season.”