Transplanted Virginian Kyle Matthews has never quite adapted to the cooler weather of New York State.
But that doesn’t mean he has any problem playing golf here.
The Shenendehowa senior, bundled up in several layers of warm clothing, fired a two-over-par 73 for a two-day total of 151 to earn medalist honors at the Section II New York State qualifier Thursday at Orchard Creek Golf Club.
Matthews will lead a group of nine area players at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Golf Championship next June at Cornell.
Also making the Section II squad were Tanner Donovan of Shaker (77-152), Josh Fonda of Gloversville (76-153), Christopher Thompson of Saratoga Springs (74-153), Alex Gibson of Glens Falls (75-153), Hunter Donovan of Shaker (76-154), Matt Mastrianni of Bethlehem (75-156), Wyatt Gorham of Hudson Falls
(76-156) and Dan Sheperd of Saratoga Springs (78-157), who beat Bobby McCarthy of Shenendehowa (78-157) in a playoff for the final spot.
Only six shots separated the nine qualifiers. Birdies were hard to come by on the second day of the two-day event, and nerves had a great deal to do with it.
Matthews, playing in the second-to-last group, was calmer than most.
“It was a better golfing day today than it was [Tuesday],” he said. “It was just cloudy today. The other day, we had a lot of wind, and it was a lot tougher to play.”
Matthews said he enjoyed the fact that he could keep track of how the final group was doing.
“I could see what they were doing behind me, and ahead of me,” he said. “I was hoping to make the state team, but I’ll definitely take the win.”
This is not the first time Matthews has made a state team, but it is his first time on the New York State team. Before his family moved to New York from Virginia, he made the Virginia state team.
“We moved a couple of years ago, but last year was my first time trying for the New York State team, and I didn’t make it,” he said.
Matthews, who played most of his scholastic matches at either The Edison Club or Van Patten Golf Course, clinched medalist honors with a birdie on the 18th hole. He hit his 52-degree gap wedge to within six inches of the cup to set up a tap-in. He also birdied the fifth hole.
“The courses up here are different than they are in Virginia,” Matthews said. “I don’t like the cold weather up here. The courses down there are much longer. They are all around 7,200 yards. Plus, we have Bermuda grass down there, and there is a lot of bent grass up here. But golf is golf. It’s just a little different.”
Matthews said he is hoping to play collegiate golf at Siena or The College of Saint Rose, unless he is lucky enough to get into a college down south.
For most of the day, Tanner Donovan was in excellent position to take medalist honors. He was the first-round leader with a 75, and he was only one-over-par on the front side.
But he was six-over-par on the back, including a double bogey on the par-3 17th hole. He hit his approach shot into a bunker and then three-putted.
“My goal was just to make the state team,” he said. “I was happy with the way I played on the front side, but I just missed some putts on the back.”
Thompson played one of the most consistent rounds of the day, and was one-under-par on the front side before finishing with a 74.
Sheperd, his Saratoga Springs teammate, birdied the 10th hole to start a strong back nine and then had to make a clutch par putt to earn his way onto the team.
Both he and McCarthy reached the green in regulation on the first playoff hole, the par-4 10th. McCarthy rolled his 30-footer up to about 31⁄2 feet, while Sheperd’s first putt, an 18-footer downhill, rolled past the cup, about three feet way. After McCarthy lipped out his par putt, Sheperd, wearing a pair of John Daly multi-color pants, calmly sank his putt to make the team.
“I was a little nervous,” he said. “Once Bobby missed, I just wanted to make a good stroke. These pants are a little magical.”
Qualifiers — Kyle Matthews (Shenendehowa) 73-151, Tanner Donovan (Shaker) 77-152, Josh Fonda (Gloversville) 76-153, Christopher Thompson (Saratoga Springs) 74-153, Alex Gibson (Glens Falls) 75-153, Hunter Donovan (Shaker) 75-154, Matt Mastrianni (Bethlehem) 75-156, Wyatt Gorham (Hudson Falls) 76-156, Dan Sheperd (Saratoga Springs) 78-157 (won playoff).
Other scores — Bobby McCarthy (Shenendehowa) 78-157, Michael Zhao (Niskayuna) 78-158, Zach Scala (Ballston Spa) 82-158, Sean Puleo (Albany Academy) 78-158, Joe Kapcynski (Bethlehem) 82-159, Patrick Hayes (Albany Academy) 80-161, Matt Espey (Hoosic Valley) 79-162.