By Frank Rizzo
ITHACA Rich Elliott’s third trip to the state high school golf championship ended on a happier note than last year, when he was disqualified for signing his scoreboard with the wrong score.
But still, the Fallsburg Comet golf standout felt he could have done better than his two-day total of 156, according to coach Darren Kenney.
“Richie definitely felt disappointed. It’s hard to be disappointed when you look at the big picture he did still finish 19th out of 99 golfers, so overall he placed very well,” said Kenney. “It was his highest finish on the leaderboard in the three years he has competed at states. Like most golfers do at the end of the round, he thought back about a few shots he left out there and said there was at least three or four times he let a stroke slip away, but that can be said after pretty much any round.… He expressed some frustration about those last nine holes, saying, ‘I just couldn’t do anything right.’”
The par-72 Robert Trent Jones Golf Course on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca “is very demanding. It requires you to hit a wide array of shots and the greens are guarded by some tough bunkers,” said Kenney. “The speed of the greens was probably the biggest adjustment that our local guys had to make. The greens were running much faster than any course in this area so judging speed was so important. If you got aggressive on a putt, you could have easily put it 10 feet past the hole and brought a three-putt into the equation very quickly.”
State champ was New Hartford junior Derek Bard (74-69143), who won by five strokes and was the only golfer to break par on the second day.
Section IX champ Ben DeForest of Rondout Valley shot a 148 to finish second.
Many of the scores were higher on the second day, including Elliott’s, whose 81 was six strokes higher than what he carded on the first day, when he was just four shots off the lead.
“The weather was off and on raining that day and it was much breezier than day one, so I think that definitely altered some shots,” Kenney said. “On both days the pins were in very tough positions. Making bogey on some holes was a great number to put down on the card.”
Regarding Elliott, Kenney said, “Walking the course and carrying clubs for 18 holes is certainly a strain, and it could have effected Richie’s performance on that final nine holes. The competitive pressure might have factored in as well. Both of his playing partners on that second day scored in the mid 70s, so he might have started pressing and taking some chances on the final few holes, in hopes of making birdies and getting back some strokes.”
The other county golfer to qualify, Eldred eighth-grader David Powers, shot 86-94180 to tie for 88th.