By Frank Rizzo
POUGHKEEPSIE Fallsburg senior Rich Elliott will make his third trip to the New York State Golf Tournament, slated to be held at Cornell University June 2-4.
But his journey was filled with doubt and anxiety.
Elliott scored a two-day total of 158 at the Section IX golf championship , good for fifth place, after rounds at Mansion Ridge in Monroe (Monday) and Casperkill Golf Club in Poughkeepsie on Wednesday.
Ben DeForest of Rondout Valley beat brother Ethan in a playoff to take the title. Both finished with a 1-over 145.
The top nine golfers advanced to states, and Elliott will be joined by Eldred eighth grader David Powers.
Elliott shot a 37-45-82 Monday on the par-72 Mansion Ridge course. Through the front nine at Casperkill on Wednesday, he was 5-over. He got off to a bad start when he shanked his opening tee, then bogeyed the third hole to find himself 4-over.
But he said he settled down on the back nine to comfortably qualify for states with a 76.
Elliot said the postseason has been rough. The defending OCIAA champion placed eighth at the league championships held at Grossinger’s last week.
“It was only my third time at Grossinger’s,” Elliott noted. “I played terribly at the OCIAAs and I played really bad until the back nine [Wednesday at Casperkill].”
Elliott said the Section IX courses presented some long and tricky and difficult holes.
He looks forward to the states, noting, “Hopefully I can bring my ‘A’ game next week. It will be awesome.”
The senior member of an avid golf family (see the article in the Catskill-Delaware Summer Magazine, out with today’s issue) will be making amends for an unfortunate mistake at last year’s states he signed his scorecard with a wrong score on it and was disqualified.
“I need a little work,” said Elliott, noting his putting and chipping are fine, but, “I need to work on my driving.”
Elliott and his coach, Darren Kenney, will be spending time on his home course, Tarry Brae. He recently set an unofficial record when he shot a 5-under 31 on the front nine at the Town of Fallsburg course.
Eldred coach Bob Bliefernich said of David Powers, “He’s been doing really well. He beat a lot of really good golfers who I’m sure weren’t expecting an eighth grader [to do it].
Bliefernich added, “[At states,] he has potential… and I’m expecting him to score mid-range amongst the other players."
Section IX Results
Ben DeForest (Rondout Valley) 73-72-145; Ethan DeForest (Rondout Valley) 75-70-145; Nick Marotta (Monroe-Woodbury) 71-78-149; Scott Clark (Monroe-Woodbury) 79-78-157; Rich Elliott (Fallsburg) 82-76-158; Joe Puleo (Wallkill) 40-42-82-78-160; Ryan Rodriguez (Cornwall) 80-81-161; Ryan Higgins (New Paltz) 83-80-163; David Powers (Eldred) 83-80-163.
Missed the cut: Drew Billard (Sullivan West) 83-81-164; Stan Garrant (Spackenkill) 86-78-164; Lucas Durland (Warwick) 81-85-166; Arthur Higby (Rondout Valley) 84-83-167; Tyler Prater (Millbrook) 86-81-167; Connor Cook (Newburgh Free Academy) 86-82-168; Nikolai Quigley (Warwick) 84-84-168; Mike Friedman (Monroe-Woodbury) 86-83-169; Justin Lane (Onteora) 85-84-169; Justin Thelig (Kingston) 86-83-169; Kyle O'Connell (Cornwall) 85-88-173; Pete Rodriguez (Minisink Valley) 84-89-173; Eric Cohen (Monroe-Woodbury) 84-92-176; Sean Ginley (Warwick) 85-91-176.
Missed the cut to play in Section IX second round: Jimmy Bernstein (Tri-Valley) 41-46-87.