The dominant color on the first day of the Section II A-B-C-D Golf Playoffs at Orchard Creek Tuesday was green, as in Shenendehowa vert.
Plainsmen shooters finished first, second and tied for third to lead 16 qualifiers into Thursday’s final round for the state qualifying tournament.
Senior Louis Walsh shot a career-best four-under-par 67 to lead the way, while junior Alex Kinkaid posted a 72. Veteran Ryan Simpson, who has already qualified for three state championships, put himself into excellent position to make it four with a 73 that tied him with Averill Park’s Jimmy Sullivan, the co-medalist at last week’s Class A tournament, and Zack Scala of Ballston Spa.
“Our three guys did really well,” said Shenendehowa golf coach Chris Douglas, whose Plainsmen have won three of the last four Class A team titles. “I know we’ve had two players on the state team before, but I don’t think we’ve ever had three. This is very exciting if we can pull this off.”
The most excited player in the bunch was Walsh, who shot a bogey-free round that stunned himself and his teammates.
“You can’t go out and expect anything like that,” Walsh said. “All you can do is go out there with a game plan and try to stick to it. I’m very surprised that I didn’t have any bogeys today.”
Walsh kept the ball in play all day and zeroed in with his irons, leaving him very makeable birdie putts.
He birdied the first, third, sixth and 18th holes.
“That’s a personal low score for me. I’m excited,” he said. “Even par was my best score before this.”
Walsh said the key to his round may have been a 15-foot putt that enabled him to get up and down for par on his second hole of the day.
“I hit a lot of fairways today, and when I missed the greens, I was usually only about five feet or so away. A lot of my par putts were very close,” he said.
Walsh, one of the most consistent players on the Shen roster, recorded a stroke average of 36.7 on the season. Although this is the third time that he’s advanced to the Class A-B-C-D playoffs, he’s never qualified for the state team.
“I’m just going to try to keep the ball in play [on Thursday],” he said. “I can’t get ahead of myself.”
Meanwhile, Kinkaid was surprised that his teammate did so well.
“I was shocked to see his score, but when I saw him at the turn, he had some giddyap in his step, so I figured he was playing pretty well.”
Competing in his first sectional playoffs, Kinkaid rolled in three birdies to offset four bogeys.
“I made quite a few up-and-down pars today,” he said. “I missed a few fairways here and then, but I was playing pretty well.”
Kinkaid said he wasn’t nervous until the end of his round.
“I got a little nervous on the final hole, but I don’t usually get that nervous unless someone is watching me,” he said.
Simpson, perhaps the most experienced tournament player in the field with numerous sectional and U.S. Open qualifying appearances, struggled on the greens.
“I don’t remember having a better ball-striking round. I hit 16 greens in regulation,” he said. “But it was depressing hitting that many greens and not having a single birdie. My putting let me down.
“I three-putted the 11th hole from two feet, and I three-putted the 12th hole from 20 feet. I must have missed five or six putts from inside 10 feet. On the 15th hole, I stiffed my shot to 10 feet, and I missed that birdie try, as well. I don’t know why I was having such a bad putting day.”
Although he was having his own troubles, Simpson said he was happy for his teammates.
“It would be great if we could get three Shenendehowa players on the state team,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve ever done that before.”
Qualifiers — Louis Walsh (Shenendehowa) 67, Alex Kinkaid (Shenendehowa) 72, Ryan Simpson (Shenendehowa) 73, Jimmy Sullivan (Averill Park) 73, Zack Scala (Ballston Spa), Riley Olson (Queensbury) 74, Chris Giglio (Niskayuna) 74, Spencer Sautin (Saratoga Catholic) 75, Matt DeVito (Albany Academy) 75, Corey Purcell (Catholic Central) 76, Austin Teal (Albany Academy) 77, Calvin Beckwith (Saratoga Springs) 78, Aaron Simone (Niskayuna) 78, Mark Jensen (Shaker) 78, John Young (Mechanicville) 79, Trevor Skiba (Shaker) 79.
Other scores — Justin Brock (Albany Academy) 80, Chris LeFever (Gloversville) 80, Jon Farah (Niskayuna) 81, David Jensen (Shaker) 81, Joe Naylor (South Glens Falls) 81, Kevin White (Hoosic Valley) 82, Cam Husain (Johnstown) 83, Kevin Johnston (Gloversville) 83, Austin Westerveldt (Cobleskill-Richmondville) 84, Ryan Steinbach (Queensbury) 84, Josh Manko (Sharon Springs) 84, Chris Mosconi (Gloversville) 84, Eric Sulem (Cobleskill-Richmondvile) 85, Greg Scott (Greenwich) 86, Kyle Preusser (Taconic Hills) 86, Kyle Russell (Voorheesville) 86, Alex Russ (Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk) 87, Mike Daley (Queensbury) 87, Zack Pickens (Hadley-Luzerne) 87, Matt Parrottino (Voorheesville) 87, Mitch Vdoviak (Johnstown) 90, S.J. McDermott (Granville) 93, Matt Carter (Broadalbin-Perth) 97.
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Categories: High School Sports