Bad weather hindered the St. John’s golf team all season.
Hurricane Hanna stole a round from their season opener at the Maryland Intercollegiate. The Hoya International tournament earlier this year was shortened in response to heavy rains and flurries.
Several other tournaments suffered adverse conditions.
And at the NCAA East Regional Preview this past weekend, the wind and rain was again hassling the competitors. But the Red Storm were able to live up to their moniker, and medaled for the first time this season, finishing in a tie for third overall at Columbia’s par-71 Galloway National Golf Club – a tournament that was influenced so much by the weather that only the champion was able to score under par.
St. John’s led after the first round, and senior Kevin Velardo was instrumental in the team’s strong showing all weekend.
After the first 18 holes, Velardo sat in seventh, and by the end of three rounds – with a score of 17-over 230 – he had held on to tie for 14th overall, in a field consisting of 80 golfers from 15 schools. The team’s junior co-captains turned in impressive scorecards as well, as Mike Ballo Jr. and Evan Beirne finished tied only a stroke behind Velardo. Ballo Jr. recovered from less-than-stellar scores in the first two rounds, with the team’s best round of the tournament on the third day, shooting one-over par.
Beirne, who along with sophomore transfer student Mark Constanza, had been in 10th overall at the end of the first day and slipped only slightly while battling the elements. Constanza finished in 45th overall in the treacherous second and third round weather.
Senior Casey Calmi placed 51st overall.After receiving votes in the preseason Top 25 poll, the team’s autumn showing was inconsistent, often getting off to great first day starts and fading over the course of the tournament.
At the Mission Inn Classic, the team’s third place standing fell to fourth and then sixth on subsequent days. It was the same story in Georgetown, where good first day scores had the team in competitive position, but a dreadful final round dropped it into last place.
The team’s stormy fall season was perhaps one of the less prodigious in head coach Frank Darby’s 14-year tenure at St. John’s, but showed a lot of individual progress, and culminated in the team’s best performance.
Darby, who in the last decade and a half has restored the team to prominence in the Big East and the Mid-Atlantic region, has the team looking forward to its historically more successful (and temperate) spring season.