ALTAMONT— Austin Fox received an important telephone call Wednesday night from his older brother, Victor, a two-time Section II state qualifying medalist who later played varsity golf for Maryland.
“He said he wanted me to play well and win medalist honors once again to beat his record,” Fox said with a grin. “I don’t know if he really meant it, but I appreciated it.”
Fox, a senior for Bethlehem, took his brother’s advice and shot a solid one-over-par 72 in the final round for a two-day total of 145 (plus-3) to capture his third Section II state qualifier medalist trophy Thursday at Orchard Creek.
He edged Saratoga Springs junior Nolan Crowley (74-148) by three shots to lead the 9-player Section II contingent that will compete in the state tournament next June at Cornell.
Joining Fox and Crowley will be Aidan Seery of Guilderland (74-153), Paul Goetz of Shenendehowa (78-153), Ryan Lovelass of Galway (76-154), Adam Desorbo of Fonda-Fultonville (74-155), Ryan Bloomer of Hoosick Falls (76-156), Reed Boduch of Greenwich (76-156) and Will Braxton of Saratoga Springs (81-158).
Tyler Gregory of Niskayuna and Ryan Davis of Bethlehem each shot a 159, but Gregory won a playoff on the 10th hole to earn the first alternate spot.
Conditions Thursday were much milder than Tuesday’s windy opening round, but scoring wasn’t any easier for the 20-player field. “The pins were very hard out there,” Fox said. “If it was windy, there was no way you could shoot for the pins today. I watched the scoreboard that they brought out from time to time, and I knew where I stood against the field,” he said. “Having a scoreboard helped. But I just played the same type of golf I always play.”
Fox was sharp on the front nine, making the turn with an even-par 36. He birdied both the 12th and short par-4 14th holes to go 2-under-par, but he lost 3 shots to par the rest of the way with a 3-putt bogey on the long par-3 15th hole and a double-bogey on the par-3 17th. “I lost my focus a little on the back nine,” he admitted. “I was trying to enjoy it. I didn’t have my A game today, but I was close. My goal today was definitely to win medalist honors again.”
Crowley, the Class A tournament medalist, needed to regroup after a tough front nine. “I started out with a double bogey on the second hole, and I ended up with the highest 9-hole round I’ve had all season with a 40,” Crowley said. “The back nine, I focused more. There wasn’t any wind, but the pins were definitely a lot tougher today. They were almost unfair. But I buckeled down on the back nine and shot a 34. I remember last year I also started out badly with a 44, but I came back with a 37 on the back nine, so I knew I could do it. I’m definitely looking forward to Cornell next June.”
Goetz, a sophomore, had the opposite problem that Crowley had. After shooting a solid 37 on the front nine, he nearly fell apart on the back nine with a 41. “I had to keep my head in the game,” he said. “I was feeling pretty good with that 37, but then on the back, I started out bogey, bogey, double-bogey. I liked that scoreboard they had, so I knew where I stood. I knew that after my good round on Tuesday and that 37 on the front, I had some room to spare, but I had to bear down. I’m glad I made the team.”
The shot of the day was turned in by Lovelass, who holed out a 9-iron from 140 yards for an eagle on the par-5 18th hole.
Qualifiers — Austin Fox (Bethlehem) 72-145, Nolan Crowley (Saratoga Springs) 74-148, Aidan Seery (Guilderland) 74-158, Paul Goetz (Shenendehowa) 78-153, Ryan Lovelass (Galway) 76-154, Adam Desorbo (Fonda-Fultonville) 74-155, Ryan Bloomer (Hoosick Falls) 76-155, Reed Boduch (Greenwich) 76-156, Will Braxton (Saratoga Springs) 81-158.
Alternates — Tyler Gregory (Niskayuna) 82-159, Ryan Davis (Bethlehem) 82-159
Rest of field — Ryan Warnick (Albany Academy) 80-160, AJ Cavotta (Saratoga Springs) 80-160, Matthew Smith (Hoosick Falls) 77-161, Jack Manning (Shenendehowa) 82-162, TJ Trosset (Bethlehem) 83-162, Trevor Wolfe (Ichabod Crane) 83-163, Mike Westfall (Shenendehowa) 85-164, Ben Follos (Schuylerville) 84-169, Dylan Finnegan (Saratoga Springs) 89-170.