Seven newcomers give lineup new look in Affleck’s final year at helm

Entering his 15th and final year leading the University’s most successful sports program, head coach John Affleck welcomes seven new faces to a team that is poised to make a run at the America East Championship and perhaps an NCAA berth.

Affleck, whose name and face have been synonymous with Binghamton golf for nearly two decades, has put together a group of able athletes who are so closely matched in skill, it may be difficult to distinguish between
Nos. 1 and 10, let alone the starting five.

“I believe our parity and depth will ‘feed’ and assist each member of our team to be that much better a golfer and competitor.”

Fuchs leads three returning starters

Senior captain Adam Fuchs returns to put the finishing touches on his stellar four-year collegiate career. Fuchs, a PING all-region selection in 2001-02, has won eight collegiate tournaments and is the program’s all-time leader in stroke average (74.7), but is more excited about the talent level of his current teammates.

“It’s definitely the strongest, most talented team, Nos. 1-10, since I’ve been here,” he said. “We could be a force.”
Fuchs has done his part by sharpening his already finely-tuned game. Over the summer he captured the Long Island Publinks Championship and also advanced to sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open. At the final qualifier, Fuchs outplayed two-time Open winner Curtis Strange among others.

Last season, Fuchs was BU’s low man seven times in 11 tournaments — including the final three of the spring. He captured medalist honors at the America East Championship (74-75) and at the Le Moyne Invitational (70-73) and placed third at the competitive Rhode Island Invitational. He placed among the top-10 in 10 of 11 tournaments.

“In his freshman year, I nicknamed Adam ‘Wow,’” Affleck said. “It means wonder of wonders. Adam has not disappointed myself, his teammates or the University. Each and every day I am around him my eyes and heart are opened to his incredible talents and person. His selection last year as a Scholar-Athlete demonstrated to all that our University permits and encourages excellence in both academics and athletics. I look forward to working with Adam as team captain in his final year of BU golf.”

Hendrickson, Vinal play pivotal roles

In addition to Fuchs, Affleck returns juniors Keith Hendrickson and Eric Vinal — both starters from last spring’s regionally-ranked squad.

Hendrickson averaged 78.3 in six spring tournaments after transferring from Campbell (N.C.). He placed third at the New England Championship (78-71) and was fourth out of 109 golfers at the Towson Classic (70-73).

Hendrickson also had a breakout summer on the amateur circuit. In a span of four weeks, he advanced to the round of 32 at the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship, and qualified for the U.S. Amateur Championship.

“Keith is an intense competitor who thrives on challenges and pressure,” Affleck said. “He had an impressive summer of golf, and I am confident it will be a harbinger of good things to come.”

Vinal also enjoyed a successful summer, capturing the Syracuse District Golf Association Men’s Amateur Championship.

Affleck’s No. 5 man from a year ago, Vinal averaged 78.4 in seven tournaments, three times placing in the top-20.

“I look forward to this being Eric’s ‘breakout’ year,” Affleck said. “He is a warrior on the golf course, and his determination and natural leadership abilities should serve us well.”

Reigning junior college, state scholastic champions highlight elite recruit class

In his final year as head coach, Affleck has brought in the most “credentialed” recruiting class in his tenure. Among the seven newcomers is a national junior college champion, a New York State high school champion, and two top Canadian players.

Junior Joe Kunz transferred from Monroe Community College, where he captured the NJCAA Division III championship last spring. Kunz fired rounds of 75-73-73-72 to beat a strong field of 87 golfers. He shot an even-par final round to win the title by two strokes. Kunz should immediately move into the starting lineup.

“Joe has a wonderfully steady and complete game, and a confidence generated, in part, by being a national champion,” Affleck said. “It is also special to have such a humble and pleasant person be a member of our team.”

Freshman Brad Moulton, a 6-foot-3 athlete from Ontario, Canada, is also pressing for a spot in the top-5. Moulton placed fourth at the prestigious 2002 Junior Tournament of Champions in Toronto, and is the 12th-ranked junior golfer in all of Canada.

“Brad has already demonstrated the discipline, desire and competitive spirit that will help our program,” Affleck said.

Freshmen Kevin Crawford, Scott Harvey, Matt Mattingly, Chris McLaughlin and Casey Wheet are all capable golfers eager to crack the starting lineup.

Crawford captured the 2002 New York State high school championship for Lockport High School last spring, shooting a pair of 73s at Cornell Golf Course. He was a five-year letter-winner and three-time all-league selection.

Harvey is another tall Canadian — standing at 6-foot-3. He advanced to both the 2001 Ontario Amateur and Junior Championships.

Mattingly earned scholastic all-state honors in Tennessee, while McLaughlin was a two-time Suffolk County champion while at Northport High School.

“The depth of talent that our newcomers possess is amazing, but their promise for growth and development is even more hopeful,” Affleck said.

Schedule features three home events

The 2002-03 schedule is again loaded with high-caliber tournaments in the fall and spring. The Bearcats will open at the Colgate Invitational — a tournament BU has won two consecutive years. In all, Binghamton will squeeze five tournaments into the month of September, before competing in three special events in October.

Binghamton was selected to host the 2002 ECAC Division I Championship on October 5-6, when BU will showcase one of its two home courses — The Links at Hiawatha Landing — to the best teams in the Northeast. Two weeks later, the Bearcats will tee it up at En-Joie Golf Course – home of the PGA’s B.C. Open — in the BU Invitational. The fall season concludes at the prestigious Tillinghast tournament, hosted by St. John’s at Quaker Ridge GC in Scarsdale. Last year, eventual NCAA champion Minnesota was among a blockbuster field that also included Illinois, Penn State, Maryland and Michigan.

In the spring, BU will head south for its traditional spring break trip before gearing up for key tournaments hosted by Towson, Navy and Rhode Island. Those April invitationals will pit the Bearcats against region rivals Yale, Army, Hartford and Rhode Island with NCAA at-large invitations in the balance.

Binghamton will conclude its regular-season by hosting the America East Championship April 28-29 at En-Joie, where BU will look to dethrone 2002 champion Hartford.

“Once our golfers gain experience and knowledge of the courses we will encounter, we will improve,” Affleck said. “We believe a conference championship and a possible NCAA bid are realistic goals. More importantly, I look forward to working with each member to give him the support and encouragement to be successful in academics, golf, and life in general.”

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