ALTAMONT – Aggressive from start to finish, Saratoga Springs senior A.J. Cavotta accomplished his season’s goal of becoming Section II’s top boys’ golfer in convincing fashion.
Cavotta posted a 2-under-par 69 Monday to finish off a two-day, 4-under-par 138 score that netted him medalist honors by seven shots during the Section II qualifying tournament at Orchard Creek Golf Club. Paul Goetz of Shenendehowa, who chipped in for birdie on the final hole, slipped into second place with a 74-145, while sophomore Jimmy King of Niskayuna (77-146) and Ryan Bloomer of Hoosick Falls (73-146) tied for third.
Also earning spots on the Section II team for next June’s state tournament at Mark Twain Golf Club in Elmira were Clarkie Carroll of Saratoga Springs (75-147), Ryan Lovelass of Galway (72-148), Nick Lyons of Albany Academy (73-149), Matthew Smith of Hoosick Falls (81-149) and Will Baxter of Saratoga Springs (71-150).
Shaker’s Brian Cunningham (75-154) and Lane Jenkins (77-155) will be the alternates.
Cavotta birdied the first two holes and never looked back en route to a dominating performance.
“It’s a good feeling not being over par for any day of the tournament or at any point,” Cavotta said. “Getting that birdie on the first hole both days feels so good. Getting off to a good start like that, and knowing my putter is going, gives you a lot of confidence.”
Cavotta, who rolled in four birdies, was not surprised by his performance.
“I was pretty confident,” he said. “This was kind of a playoff for me. I tied with Clarkie [Carroll] at the Suburban Council tournament, and I tied with Aidan [Fitzgerald] at the [Class A] sectionals. I knew I could prove that I was one of the best, if not the best, player in Section II if I won this, and it was my goal to win it.
“I was pushing to play as well as I could and make as many birdies as I could. . . . I was aggressive. That’s what got me here, and I wasn’t going to stop now. I wanted to see how low I could go, and maybe get it to 5-under or 6-under. But I was pretty happy with the way I finished.”
Cavotta said he’s known his Saratoga Springs teammates Carroll and Braxton since he was 12 years old, and that it will be special going to states together.
“It definitely makes you feel more comfortable,” Cavotta said. “But everybody in Section II knows each other pretty well.”
Cavotta said he plans on making a trip to Mark Twain Golf Club early next spring to get a feel for the course.
“I’m going to try to get down there in the spring, because it’s my last chance to win a state tournament,” he said.
Goetz concentrated simply on making the state team once again after watching Cavotta open up a big lead on his rivals.
“I always go out there with the goal of beating the rest of the guys in my group, but I realized A.J. was going to run away with it,” Goetz said. “I didn’t make many birdies, but I made a couple when it counted. The rain delay this week gave me a lot of extra practice time on my short game. For sure, I’m excited to go to the states once again. As far as the weather is concerned, though, I don’t hit the ball as far as the rest of the guys, so I was at a disadvantage here today. It was very wet, and there were mud balls everywhere.”
Bloomer will be making his third trip to the state tournament. He got off to a great start with two birdies, but then got into trouble on the third hole.
“Those two birdies were pretty confidence-boosting, for sure, but then I hit it left off No. 3. I was bummed, but then I hit my second tee shot right down the middle, and my confidence went right back up,” said Bloomer, who finished with a double-bogey 7 on that hole.
After that hole, Bloomer settled down with pars through the 12th hole.
“I just wanted to shoot below a 77 today, but I’ll take a 73 for sure,” Bloomer said. “It was long and wet out there. It was also very stressful. There was a lot of close competition this year.”
King had to battle some nerves early, and posted four straight bogeys before settling down.
“A.J. goes birdie-birdie, and I don’t start off that great. I was a little nervous going into the first couple of holes, but I saw my coach, and he settled me down. I got rid of the nerves,” King said. “I’m very excited to be going to the states. It will be a nice experience. The weather delay gave me a little more practice time, but my game also changed a little bit the last couple of days. Still, it ended up working out fine. It was a little wet, but we were able to play lift, clean and place. It was definitely a pressure-filled day, but my coach told me to take some deep breaths, and he let me know I was doing fine, and just be calm. It was definitely hard out there.”
Qualifiers – A.J. Cavotta (Saratoga Springs) 69-138, Paul Goetz (Shenendehowa) 74-145, Jimmy King (Niskayuna) 77-146, Ryan Bloomer (Hoosick Falls) 73-146, Clarkie Carroll (Saratoga Springs) 75-147, Ryan Lovelass (Galway) 72-148, Nick Lyons (Albany Academy) 73-149, Matthew Smith (Hoosick Falls) 81-149, Will Braxton (Saratoga Springs) 71-150.
Alternates – Brian Cunningham 75-154 (Shaker), Lane Jenkins (Shaker) 77-155.
Other scores – Jake Owens (Greenwich) 79-155, Nick Tellone (Niskayuna) 81-157, Ryan Komp (Shenendehowa) 79-158, Chris Huban (Albany Academy) 82-159, Tismark Boham (Ichabod Crane) 81-162, Ryan Murphy (Shaker) 84-163, Jack Mattfeld (Catholic Central) 86-166, Justin Bateman (Niskayuna) 85-166, Trevor Wolfe (Ichabod Crane) 91-170.