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Ditcher Shows The Way as Bonnies Capture Fourth Straight Little Three Championship Crown

St. Bonaventure celebrates the Little Three Championship win Tuesday at Bartlett CC. (Photo by: Craig Melvin)
St. Bonaventure celebrates the Little Three Championship win Tuesday at Bartlett CC. (Photo by: Craig Melvin)
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- By Scott Eddy, Director of Athletic Communications

OLEAN, N.Y. – Graduate student Nolan Ditcher matched his career low round of 68 in the morning and his afternoon effort of 74 was enough to earn medalist honors, showing the way for a fourth consecutive Little Three Championship presented by H&R Block win for the St. Bonaventure golf team.

St. Bonaventure sailed to victory on its home course of Bartlett Country Club with a winning team score of 578 following matching rounds of 289. The Bonnies were 20 strokes better than Canisius (598) and 23 clear of Niagara (601).

Tuesday marked the 66th edition of the event and St. Bonaventure won for the 42nd time.

"The first round was a little ugly at times, but the guys never quit," St. Bonaventure head coach Ryan Swanson said. "We have a long way to go, but we threw some tough pins out there today on purpose. I wanted them to stay patient and pick their spots and we did a much better job of that in the second round. The scores were the same, but as a team we were much more balanced."

Ditcher set the tone for the day by carding birdies on two of his first three holes – the par-4 first and the par-3 third. A pair of bogeys on six and eight had him at even par at the turn, but he got things rolling with back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12 and added his fifth birdie of the round at the 17th before dropping a shot on the last to settle for 2-under 68.

In the afternoon, he was able to grind out a 4-over 74, enough to win by three strokes in the field of 26 competitors with a 142 (+2) total for the day. His total of nine birdies were two clear of anyone else in the field and his opening round was the only one in red figures all day. With the win, Ditcher earned a spot in next summer's Porter Cup.

Ditcher previously won the team's three qualification rounds in pre-season by eight shots over his teammates but was unable to play in last weekend's season-opening event due to a family commitment.

"Nolan was anxious to get out here today and I think he is ready to go for a great senior year," said Swanson, who moved to 8-0 in Little Three Championships with four wins each as a player and a coach.

Teammate Christian Chapman put together solid rounds of 73 and 72 and his day's work of 145 (+5) tied him for second along with Canisius' Jaret Chipman and Ryan Sabo of Niagara. Chapman was steady throughout – just three birdies highlighted his scorecard, but he recorded 25 pars.

Zach Chaddock posted the second-best score of the opening round with his 1-over 71 during the morning. He settled for 76 in the afternoon and a 147 total that left him fifth on the leaderboard.

Danny Gianniny (77-72/149) was eighth; Jack Bailey tied for ninth (77-73/150) and Jack Geise, last year's champion, finished tied for 12th (79-72/151).

Tuesday's championship was played under a six players, four lowest scores counting format.

Playing as individuals, Lance Sininger (76-72/148), Andrew LaCongo (80-74/154), Erik Stauderman (80-74/154) and Andrew Lemay (80-78/158) all saw action as well.

The Bonnies were quickly turning around after playing 54 holes at Colgate Saturday and Sunday.

"I think we were a little tired after the long weekend, but in the second round we bounced back strong," Swanson said. "We were very close at Colgate, but we struggled with our wedge game and on and around the greens. Today we were better and we'll keep improving."

St. Bonaventure continues its busy opening week by heading to the Cornell Invitational at the Robert Trent Jones course Saturday and Sunday.

For the latest news on St. Bonaventure athletics, stay connected on social media. Follow the Bonnies on Twitter @GoBonnies and get golf updates @BonniesGolf. Keep up with the Bonnies on Facebook /GoBonnies and on Instagram @GoBonnies.