Conservative off the tee, Ryan Simpson stuck to his game plan and held off Albany Academy’s Steve Quillinan by a shot to win medalist honors in the final round of the Section II Class A-B-C-D playoffs Friday at windy Orchard Creek.
Nine area players advanced to the state tournament next spring at Cornell.
Simpson, a sophomore from Shenendehowa, used his driver only twice all day. Although his putter let him down on the back nine, he shot a four-over-par 75 for a two-day total of 148. Quillinan, who shot a 73 in the final round, finished with a 149.
It was sweet redemption for Simpson, who couldn’t play on the state team last year because of a back injury suffered during the sectionals.
“This takes away some of the remorse of last year,” said Simpson. “This definitely feels good. I worked a lot on my game since last year to make sure this would happen.”
Only nine of the 16 players in the field advanced to the state tournament. Simpson had no doubt of his spot on that team very early in his round.
“Right on the first hole, after I got a birdie, I knew I didn’t have to worry about the states,” he said.
Joining Simpson and Quillinan on the team are Mark Sabatino of Stillwater (78-152), Kyle Lewis of Saratoga Springs (75-152), Jim
Bologna of Catholic Central
(79-155), Ryan Prinzo of Bethlehem (77-155), Josh Ingham of Ichabod Crane (79-157), Austin Santoro of Bethlehem (77-158) and Seth
Adams of Christian Brothers Academy (76-158).
Simpson didn’t nail down medalist honors until the final hole, a 500-yard par-5. He laid up with his second shot to set up a short approach with an iron, and then two-putted for par.
Quillinan went for the green in two, but he pushed his approach shot into the water hazard to the right of the green. After taking a drop, his chip shot went long, and he two-putted for a bogey.
“I only had a 5-iron to the green. I had to go for it,” said Quillinan. “I just pushed it a little. I thought I hit the ball well all day.”
Simpson began the day with a one-shot lead over Sabatino, but at the turn, Sabatino dropped back off the pace, and Quillinan became his main nemesis for medalist honors. Simpson shot an even-par 36 on the front, but Quillinan, who shot a 76 in the opening round, shot a 35 to move to within a couple of shots.
Simpson caught a flyer on his approach shot to the 10th hole, and the ball bounced over the green and into a delicate lie. He only had about 15 yards to work with.
“I normally would have tried a flop shot there, but the lie wasn’t good enough,” he said.
He bounced the ball into the side of the green, and it went about 15 feet past. He missed his par, and Quillinan made his to cut the difference to just one shot.
Both Simpson and Quillinan
bogeyed the par-3 11th hole. Simpson three-putted, and Quillinan failed to get up and down from a bunker.
Simpson rolled in a 21-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole to expand his advantage back to two shots, but he missed the green on the next hole and failed to get up and down for another bogey.
Simpson three-putted on the short par-4 14th hole, and Quillinan moved into a tie. The players matched shots the rest of the way, until the 18th hole.
“I didn’t look at the scoreboard, except for the 10th hole,” said Simpson. “I knew just about where
everyone in my group was. Some of my putts didn’t fall today, and I got a few bad breaks here and there. I thought I hit a good putt on the 17th hole, but it lipped out, and I thought I made my putt on the 14th hole, as well.
“But I knew we were close until the 18th hole. I just kept to my game plan.”
This will be the second state tournament appearance for Simpson, Quillinan and Sabatino.
Ryan Simpson (Shenendehowa) 75-148, Steve Quillinan (Albany Academy) 73-149, Mark Sabatino (Stillwater) 78-152, Kyle Lewis (Saratoga Springs) 75-152, Jim Bologna (Catholic Central) 79-155, Ryan Prinzo (Bethlehem) 77-155, Josh Ingham (Ichabod Crane) 79-157, Austin Santoro (Bethlehem) 77-158, Seth Adams (CBA) 76-158.
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Categories: High School Sports