Monticello golf coach Dick O’Neil, left, and Cornwall coach, Tome Howe, right, look on as Eldred eighth grader, Dave Powers tees off during last weekend’s state golf tournament at Cornell University.
A Power-ful experience for youngster
By Jon Dinan
Reporter Jon Dinan conducted a Q&A with Eldred golf coach Bob Bliefernich regarding his eighth grader Dave Powers
How did David perform at the state tournament?
David performed well. He did not score as low as he would have liked, but as an eighth grade player (one of three of the field of 99), he represented Eldred and Section IX very well. [Swan Lake CC Professional] Bob Menges and I agree that David is going to be an increasingly important factor at the states in future years. Our role will be to mentor him to focus his talent for his very best performance. Next year, he will be there and he will have experience.
Did he play to his fullest potential?
His potential was to score a two-day total of 160. He actually came in at 180. When he had a bad hole and his competitors had a good one, it threw him off and he did not recover like he normally did during the golf season. Again, he will have experience next year, and his maturity will help him get over the rough spots.
Was he nervous?
I was nervous for him, but in a nutshell, yes. The starting hole had an audience and all of the other golfers watching. He had no problem hitting the ball on first tee, but got in a little trouble on his second shot. It set a tough stage for the rest of the match.
How long has David been golfing?
He first competed when he was 7 years old. There are some incredible opportunities for young golfers up and down the Hudson Valley.
What are some of David’s strengths/weaknesses?
He has natural athletic talent. He is coordinated and strong. His greatest strength in golf is his approach to every shot. He inspects the shot, addresses the ball, takes a practice swing, steps back off the ball, visualizes the shot, then he takes the shot. Very purposeful on every shot. I think his only weakness is his age. He was competing against juniors and seniors who had been to the tournament on multiple occasions. The job of his coach and our course pro, is to mentor him to take on the challenges and not accept a temporary setback.
How does David compare to the rest of your golf team?
As a seventh grader last year, David was one of my best. He stepped in and helped lead the team to our OCIAA division championship. We lost our three seniors and thought this year would be a rebuilding year. We ended up with a winning record and Eldred's first ever competitor in the state championship. He is my best player and a great mentor for his teammates.
How does he compare to other golfers his age and experience level?
He carries himself with dignity and respects his teammates and opponents. Sometimes it is hard for me to remember that he is only in eighth grade. He leads by example; encourages others to do their best also. I think he stands with the best.
In your opinion, did a lack of maturity/experience affect how he placed in the tournament?
Yes, experience will be a big asset in his arsenal next year. The Section IX coaches were an incredible support for David. [Cornwall’s] Tom Howe and [Monticello’s] Dick O'Neill took him under their collective wings and encouraged him at every turn. Every coach in Section IX had words of encouragement for every one of our nine players from the section. I believe all the coaches know David will be back strong.