Defending champion Siena Men’s Golf will head into Championship Sunday with a seven-stroke lead at the MAAC Championships at Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Freshman Jake Holt also continues to lead the field individually, with teammate Michael Christifulli hot on his heels after vaulting into second following the tournament’s lowest individual round.
“I was very pleased with how we played today, namely with Jake and Michael leading the way combined with a good back-nine from our captain Scott Kim,” said head coach Steven Jensen. “I’m already thinking about tomorrow. You can’t win the tournament with just three guys, you need all five. Seven shots can disappear in one hole. I look at tomorrow as a one-day shootout. We have the ability to go real low – as do others – but it will be more about us playing our game. We can only control what we do, not what others do, unlike in other sports.”
Siena improved its team score by 10 strokes on Day Two to more than double its lead in sitting seven clear of nearest challenger Saint Peter’s. The Saints shot the low round of the tournament so far at 299, and now stand at +32 overall for the weekend.
However, the top half of the leaderboard remains tightly contested. The Peacocks improved by 11 strokes Saturday while Manhattan, which lost last year’s title to the Saints in a playoff, were 14 shots better and now sit just eight off the lead in third place. Rider and Monmouth also remain within striking distance, trailing Siena by 10 and 12 strokes respectively.
Holt continued his impressive MAAC Championships debut, besting his First Round score by three strokes in carding a one-under par 71. He sunk three birdies on Day Two while recording 13 pars, and now holds a two-round score of 145 (+1).
“I just leave Jake alone, I have so much confidence in him,” explained Jensen. He’s so savvy. He’s tournament tested from playing in a lot of junior tournaments, and just knows how to handle the pressure in these types of events.”
But Holt’s lead in the race for the individual crown remained razor thin thanks to his hard charging teammate. Christifulli had the biggest jump up the leaderboard of any golfer Saturday, improving nine spots to pull within one stroke of Holt.
Christifulli fired a 33 on the back-nine to finish with the low round of the tournament so far with a three-under 69. He carded four birdies, and was par or better on 17 of 18 holes in tying Holt for the lowest round shot by any Siena player this year.
“Michael has now shot a 69, 77 and 69 in his last three MAAC Championships rounds,” commented Jensen. “The bigger the event, the more his game rises to the top.”
The Saints will now attempt to complete the repeat and take aim at a potential fifth MAAC Championship when they tee off Final Round action Sunday at 9 a.m. ESPN3 will broadcast Final Round coverage beginning at 10 a.m.