The bucket hat brigade prevailed.
Wearing bucket golf hats with the slogan “Refuse to Make a Bogey,” the Bethlehem golf team fired a 295 to edge Shaker by three shots in the Section II Class A Golf Championship Wednesday at Town of Colonie Golf Course.
Bethlehem’s Victor Fox shared medalist honors with a three- under-par 69, and Jeff Palmerino added a 72 for the Eagles. Shaker was led by Davis Jensen, who matched Fox’s 69.
Bethlehem’s championship was no surprise, especially since the Eagles posted a phenomenal six-player score of 209 earlier this season, with Palmerino and Fox shooting 29 and 33, respectively, for the nine-hole match.
“I knew we had a chance to win with Victor and Jeff on the team. They are studs,” said Bethlehem coach Richard Villa. “It was just a question of whether our other guys would play well enough. But our two juniors, Joe Kapcynski and Matt Mastrianni, really stepped up.
“We didn’t know who we were earlier in the season. We lost twice in a row early on. We knew we had two really good players, but we didn’t have a complete team. In previous years, we’ve played well during the regular season, but we struggled when we reached the sectionals. We are 13-2 in dual matches, so far, with one left to make up.
“I think this format helps us, because there are some teams that are deeper than us, but you only use four scores.”
Villa said he didn’t give his team any pep talk.
“I don’t believe in that,” he said. “Golf is a different kind of sport. We just went to breakfast at our usual spot, and the kids listened to music on their iPods.”
It’s been a fantastic season for Fox, who has been the Capital Region’s undisputed No. 1 junior golfer all summer. Recently, he shot a sizzling 66 for medalist honors as he led Bethlehem to the Suburban Council title for the second straight year. The Maryland-bound senior won the American Junior Golf Association’s Ravenwood Junior Championship just outside of Rochester and also competed in two elite national events, the Junior PGA in Fort Wayne, Ind., and the United States Junior Amateur in Stratham, N.J.
Fox, the defending Section II individual champion, was fourth in this spring’s New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships at Cornell, and he was the medalist at this year’s New York State Open Qualifier.
Wednesday, he shook off a double bogey on his 11th hole (actually the No. 2 hole on the blue nine) to share medalist honors. He was three-under-par on the front nine before his bogey on No. 10.
“I was trying to cut the corner on the dog-leg, and I turned it over into the woods,” said Fox. “Maybe I was a little bit too aggressive, but I was able to cut the corner during my practice round.”
Fox birdied the second, fifth, sixth, 12th, 16th and 18th holes.
“I was just worrying about my own game. I didn’t know how he [Jensen] was playing, even though we were in the same group,” said Fox. “I asked him how he was doing on the last hole, and he told me he was two-under-par. I had no idea.”
Fox said the course conditions set up perfect for good scores.
“They had soft greens, and both of us [he and Jensen] took advantage. I hit the ball well, and I putted pretty well, with only one three-putt,” he said.
“It’s been a great tournament year for me. It’s my senior year, and I’m fortunate to be playing well. I’m confident every tournament that I come into.”
If local high school coaches are breathing a sigh of relief now that Fox will be graduating, they better not get too excited. Fox’s little brother, Austin, is also on the Bethlehem team and could be just as good.
“My brother has talent, maybe even more than I do,” Fox said. “All he has to do is understand when to go for the greens and when not to be that aggressive, but that will come with maturity.”
Also helping the Eagles’ cause was Palmerino, who notched birdies on the second, fifth and 11th holes.
“My putting was a little inconsistent,” he said. “I could make 10-footers for par, but I didn’t make some of the birdie attempts I should have.”
Meanwhile, Jensen, the son of Schuyler Meadows head pro Steve Jensen, kept Shaker in the title hunt with a fabulous round of his own. His only errant shot was a double bogey on the third hole.
“I hit my third shot 80 yards over the green, and the ball stuck in a patch of dirt,” he said. “I tried to hit my wedge out of there, and although I got the ball on the green, I ended up three-putting. Other than that, I hit the ball very well today.”
Jensen birdied the second, sixth, seventh, 14th, 16th and 18th holes.
“Luckily, most of my birdies were tap-ins,” he said. “My ball-striking was very good. I hit 16 greens. Playing with Victor was great. We’re good friends. He’s such an easy kid to play with.”
Everyone who shot 79 or better advanced to Tuesday’s Class ABCD Playoffs at Orchard Creek.
Team scores: Bethlehem 295, Shaker 298, Niskayuna 312, Saratoga Springs 317, Burnt Hills-Ballson Lake 318, Shenendehowa 320, Guilderland 333, Ballston Spa 335, LaSalle 338, Albany Academy 338, Columbia 343, Colonie 346, Queensbury 352.
Qualifiers: Victor Fox (Bethlehem) 69, Davis Jensen (Shaker) 69, Jeff Palmerino (Bethlehem) 72, Hunter Donovan (Shaker) 73, Joe Kapcynnski (Bethlehem) 75, Tom Keanneally (BH-BL) 75, Aaron Simone (Niskayuna) 75, Bobby McCarthy (Shenendehowa) 75, Calvin Beckwith (Saratoga) 76, Zach Scala (Ballston Spa) 77, Luke Goldstock (Niskayuna) 77, Bobby Caniff (Shaker) 77, Thomas Cassidy (Albany Academy) 79, Matt Mastrianni (Bethlehem) 79, Alex Gillingham (Guilderland) 79, Brian Daley (Niskayuna) 79, Tanner Donovan (Shaker) 79.
FORT JOHNSON — At Rolling Hills at Antlers Country Club, Alex Gibson of Glens Falls was the medalist with a 74, and Josh Fonda of Gloversville shot a 76 to take individual honors, while Schuylerville edged Scotia-Glenville by one stroke, 333-334, for team honors.
Team scores: Schuylerville 333, Scotia-Glenville 334, Johnstown 358, Glens Falls 353.
Qualifiers: Alex Gibson (Glens Falls) 74, Josh Fonda (Gloversville) 76, Kevin Johnston (Gloversville) 77, Corey Purcell (Catholic Central) 77, Cody Husek (Broadalbin-Perth) 78, David Renko (Scotia-Glenville) 79, Mike Dwyer (Scotia-Glenville) 81, Ian Delaney (Schuylerville) 82, Matt Rici (Schuylerville) 83, James Snyder (Gloversville) 83, Alex Bond (Broadalbin-Perth) 83.
SCHENECTADY — Matt Parrottino of Voorheesville shot a four-under-par 68 for medalist honors, and Voorheesville (321) cruised to the team championship by 15 shots over Greenwich.
Team scores: Voorheesville 321, Greenwich 336, Stillwater 344, Hoosic Valley 351, Taconic Hills 362, Berne-Knox-Westerlo 367.
Qualifiers: Matt Parrottino (Voorheesville) 68, Greg Scott (Greenwich) 77, Conor LeClair (Coxsackie-Athens) 80, Jordan Fordyce (Northville) 80, John Hoin (Stillwater) 80, Cameron D’Aloia (Stillwater) 81, Pat McGarry (Duanesburg) 82, Sean McGarry (Duanesburg) 83, Anthony Giamei (Tamarac) 83, Cody Holmes (Fort Ann), Brenner Bachman (Greenville) 84, David Malfetano (Voorheesville) 84, Matt Espey (Hoosic Valley) 84, Grace Ziamandanis (Voorheesville) 84, Brandon Nassivera (Fort Ann) 84, Gavin Stosiek (Taconic Hills) 84.