HAMILTON – Trailing by seven strokes with six holes remaining in Saturday’s Section III Golf Championships, not even a player as talented as Alec Bard thought he could catch defending champion Mike May.
Despite the deficit, Bard played his best golf over that closing stretch at Seven Oaks Golf Course, posting three birdies. His third and final birdie came when he knocked in an eight-footer on the par-5 18th hole. That clutch putt forced May to make a three-footer for double bogey, but the Auburn star’s attempt slid right and he had to settle for a tie with Bard, who also posted a two-round total of 148.
“I’m proud of the way I hung in there,” Bard said. “I really was just trying to do whatever I could to try and finish second as Jon (Petrin) was right behind me. I just wanted to put some pressure on (May). I didn’t think I’d come all the way back.”
Bard and May will lead nine Section III golfers at the New York State Golf Championships June 5-6 at Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University. New Hartford’s Ryan Zogby (161), Sherburne-Earlville’s Max Britton (163) and Clinton’s Zane Monaghan (164) all will be headed to states for the first time. Joining them from Section III is Petrin (Cicero-North Syracuse, 153), Dylan Plis (West Genesee, 154), Sean Stainstreet (WG, 161) and Kyle Gilroy (F-M, 162).
After Bard and May birdied the par-5 12th, the New Hartford star began mounting his charge on the par-4 13th, as he carded another birdie and May missed a short putt for par for a two-shot swing. The New Hartford senior made up another shot on the par-4 15 after stuffing his wedge approach to within a few feet for birdie. Bard then pulled within three as May made bogey on the par-4 16th. May, who really struggled with his irons coming in, seemed to put another solo title away as he made par on the 17th to maintain a three-shot advantage heading to the final hole.
However, May, a lefty, blocked his layup way left and had to chip out from behind the trees. Bard also laid up and hit another perfectly controlled wedge pin high to leave an eight-footer for birdie. May hit a solid fourth to the middle of the green, but he misjudged his first putt and after Bard drained his birdie attempt, May missed his attempt for double bogey.
This was Bard’s first Section III title, and now his sights are set on the final major goal of his high school career.
“That’s the big one,” said Bard, who has finished runner-up twice at the state tournament. “Winning there would take a monkey off my back. All you could ask for is just putting yourself in good spot heading into the final round.”
While Bard has been a mainstay at the state tournament, Britton, Monaghan and Zogby are ready to make the most of a great opportunity.
“I’m pretty pumped right now,” said Monaghan, a sophomore, who finished solo ninth to claim the last spot. “I grinded it out today. When I was in tough positions I didn’t let it get out of control and didn’t make big numbers.”
Britton, a senior, has made sectionals four times, but Saturday was his first appearance in the final round. He made the most of it.
“I got out of tough spots really well today,” Britton said. “I scrambled really well. I’m ecstatic. (Making states) has been a goal since seventh grade.”
Zogby made sectionals as a freshman, but was looking forward to another opportunity after missing out as a sophomore and junior. His clutch putting was vital in earning his first trip to states.
“I’m pretty excited,” Zogby said. “It’s an honor to get to play with these other eight guys at states. My driving was good both days and I putted phenomenally. I made everything inside seven feet. I just put myself in good positions.”
Zogby plans on enjoying every minute at states.
“I’ll just go out and have some fun,” Zogby said. “I have nothing to lose at this point.”
Section III Golf Championship
at Seven Oaks Golf Course, Par 72
Qualified for State Tournament: 1. Alec Bard (NH) 76-72 148; Mike May (Auburn) 70-78 148; 3. Jon Petrin (C-NS) 77-76 153; 4. Dylan Plis (WG) 77-77 154; 5. Ryan Zogby (NH) 80-81 161; Sean Stainstreet (WG) 80-81 161; 7. Kyle Gilroy (F-M) 81-81 162; 8. Max Britton (S-E) 80-83 163; 9. Zane Monaghan (Clinton) 82-82 164.
Other Scores: Teddy Trosset (Cooperstown) 80-85 165; Sean Dain (Oswego) 165; Matt Dreimiller (NH) 84-82 166; Andrew Massa (F-M) 82-88 170; Frankie Szczech (Marcellus) 85-85 170; Jay Collello (Marcellus) 85-86 171; Tim Zapisek (F-M) 85-86 171; Scott Mundorff 85-87 172; Joe Miga (ND) 84-88 172; Sean Scarafile (Wboro) 83-90 173; Ethan Smith (WG) 82-91 173; Brady Urban (Homer) 85-89 174; Dalton Brown (NYM) 84-92 176; Noah Lee (Oswego) 84-92 176; Chris Netto 85-94 179.