MECHANICVILLE – The final round of the Section II Class ABCD State Qualifier was more a test of survival than a skills showcase Sunday at Fairways of Halfmoon Golf Course.
Cool, windy and wet conditions once again plagued the competitors, who weren’t even sure they were going to be able to tee it up after Saturday’s drenching rains in the first round softened up the already soaked course even more.
But perseverance prevailed at the top of the leaderboard, with five of the nine qualifiers breaking 80 and earning a spot in next June’s NYS Championship at the Mark Twain Golf Course in Elmira.
Glens Falls High School sophomore Brayden Dock, the Class C-D medalist earlier in the week, backed up Saturday’s 4-over-par 76 with a solid 75 for a two-day total of 151, two shots ahead of Greenville senior Trey Smith (74-153) and three ahead of Saratoga Springs sophomore Kellen Dean (74-154).
Tied for fourth were Saratoga Springs freshman Carter Sica (80-159) and Niskayuna junior Vincent Liguori (77-159), who was the Class A medalist.
Rounding out the qualifiers were Ryan Komp of Shenendehowa (82-162), David Mooradian of Averill Park (78-163), Tanner Fearman of Queensbury (82-167) and Travis Taylor of Columbia (85-167). Brayden Kehoe of Niskayuna (87-168) and Declan Ladd of Saratoga Springs (85-169) earned the two alternate berths.
Dock, a two-time qualifier for the national Drive, Chip & Putt competition and a multiple NENY PGA Junior League Player of the Year, managed only one birdie but stayed out of big trouble with just four bogeys.
“It was a little windy,” Dock said. “My ball-striking wasn’t very good today. I was just trying to make my way around the course. I didn’t feel too confident. Being the medalist was my goal. I knew where I was [on the leaderboard] but I was just trying to play against myself. I can’t control everybody. I can only manage myself and beat my score from yesterday,” he said.
Dock continued to hit a high percentage of fairways in regulation and didn’t seem to mind giving up yardage off the tee to the rest of the players in his lead group. “I’m trying to get a little longer, but I can’t chase it,” he said. ”Swinging smooth and hitting the middle of the fairway is more important than trying to kill it.”
Dock said he is looking forward to his first appearance at the NYS Tournament and admitted that his experience in many regional junior events was a big advantage for him over some of the other players in the field.
“My experience helps that I’ve been at the top of the standings and in the first group before, but I just try to play against myself. I can’t get too worked up with what my opponents are doing,” he added.
Smith, the Class C-D medalist last Tuesday, rolled in two birdies to offset four bogeys. One of his birdies was on the par-4 16th hole. He drove the green, although his shot bounced off toward a greenside bunker, leaving him a delicate eagle pitch. He then rolled in a 10-footer for his birdie.
“I was trying to lay up on that hole, but I hit a 300-yard 3-wood,” he said with a chuckle. “I made a run [toward being medalist], and I putted well for the first time here. I felt good about my score. I missed going to the states by one shot as a sophomore when I lost in a playoff. Since then, I’ve been wanting to get back to this. This was my last chance to make states, and I cashed in on it.”
Smith, wearing a woolen hat, wasn’t a fan of the weather conditions. “It wasn’t ideal weather. It was a little chilly and windy. There must have been gusts of 25-30 miles per hour out there. Downwind it was helpful, but into the wind, it was brutal,” he said.
The weather and course conditions resulted in a bad break for Dean on the par-4 10th hole, when a delicate pitch shot landed in a puddle just short of the green instead of bouncing on. He ended up with a double bogey. But he did register three birdies.
“It was pretty windy and pretty wet, especially around the greens,” he said. “But it was a fun group. I know most of them. We kind of thrived and built off each other. I made a lot of short putts and the shots that mattered,” he said. “I didn’t hit it great, but I hit it good enough to make some birdies.”
Sica also had some bad breaks during his round but recorded a pair of birdies. He also made a remarkable bogey on the tough par-4 14th hole after his tee shot landed in an almost unplayable area on the top of the hill near the fence.
“My goal was to make the state team. I got some bad breaks, but I played through them,” he said. “I didn’t know where I was on the leaderboard, but I tried not to look. I thought the course would play a little easier than it did Saturday, so I was hoping to play the same or a little better. I was putting the ball really well [Saturday] and hitting the green. I tried to do the same thing today but I was struggling with my tee shots. I just tried to figure things out from the fairway,” he said.
Liguori suffered two double bogeys but offset them with four birdies during his 77, which was five shots better than Saturday’s opening round.
Komp rolled in three birdies during his 82 Sunday, while Mooradian, son of CC of Troy standout Dave Mooradian, posted his only birdie on the 16th hole during his 78. Fearman and Taylor each registered one birdie each during their second round.
Qualifiers – Brayden Dock (Glens Falls)75-151, Trey Smith (Greenville) 74-153, Kellen Dean (Saratoga Springs) 74-154, Vincent Liguori (Niskayuna) 77-159, Carter Sica (Saratoga Springs) 80-159, Ryan Komp (Shenendehowa) 82-162, David Mooradian (Averill Park) 78-163, Tanner Fearman (Queensbury) 82-167, Travis Taylor (Columbia) 85-167.
Alternates – Brayden Kehoe (Niskayuna) 87-168, Declan Ladd (Saratoga Springs) 85-169.
Other scores – Luke Morganstein (Schoharie) 85-169, James Gerdeman (Albany Academy) 86-170, Ben Heidbreder (Albany Academy) 86-170, Aiden Fleming (Hoosick Falls) 85-171, Jack Hoblock (Shaker) 85-171, Dorin Chang (Queensbury) 87-172, CJ Strong (CBA) 88-174, Ben Swart (Hudson Falls) 90-175 Adam Degregory (Schuylerville) 93-176.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected]