No golf lesson was needed for the Green Hope boys to hoist the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference trophy on Monday. All the Falcons needed to do was play the conference tournament’s 18 holes and make sure to hold the hardware securely with two hands afterward.
But there was no going easy on a balmy day at Bentwinds Country Club. This is the time of year the Falcons are playing for.
Green Hope’s 299 on the day was six shots ahead of Panther Creek, more than good enough to win the SWAC for a seventh straight year (13th in 14 seasons) and also beneficial as the team fine-tunes its game going into next week’s NCHSAA 4A Mideast regional.
Green Hope coach Mike Robinson said the team will have a practice round at the regional site – the Neuse Golf Club in Clayton – later this week to get a better feel for it.
“It’s about the mental game,” Robinson said. “They have to remember that the shot before – they can’t do anything about it.”
The tournament is part of the regular season, which meant the player of the year contest went down to the last event.
Panther Creek junior Viraj Garewal held off Massei for the season-long competition. Garewal, who was runner-up to Green Hope’s Rob McPartland last year, averaged 36 shots per nine holes this year.
Massei, this year’s tournament medalist, had 36.6 while Middle Creek’s Austin Bonfiglio, last season’s tournament medalist, had 36.9.
“It hurt a little last year,” Garewal said. “But I was missing a lot of stuff last year in my game. This year I let it take care of itself and just worked hard.”
The top four teams from the SWAC get automatic bids to the regional. Though there was competition for the fourth and final spot, all nine SWAC teams finished the tournament in the same position they were in entering the day.
The 18-hole tournament was worth anywhere from 2-18 points, while nine-hole matches were worth 1-9.
Green Hope, Panther Creek, Fuquay-Varina and Athens Drive were the top four. The top four individuals – Bonfiglio, Holly Springs’ R.J. Reyes (38.9), Apex’s David Valcheff (40.6) and Cary’s Tenzing Palden (40.9) – also received bids
Green Hope’s 98 points were just one shy of the league maximum. The Falcons lost one nine-hole match and finished second. Panther Creek (80), Fuquay-Varina (70), Athens Drive (64), Middle Creek (59), Holly Springs (47.5) and Apex (42.5) finished in succession.
The Falcons’ dominance was easy to spot as Massei, Brian Chen (37.1), McPartland (38.3) and Seve Adfindsen (39.3) finished in the league’s top eight.
Panther Creek’s Garewal, Nico LaGrutta (40.3) and Alex Scott (40.4) helped the Catamounts take runner-up four times and first once.
Fuquay-Varina, led by coach of the year Chris Jones and players Thomas Williams (39.4) and William Sturtevant (39.7), had its highest finish in the league in at least five years.
Athens Drive’s Quinn Riley (37.4) and Carter Cheek (40.8) helped keep the Jags’ regional berth streak alive.
Bryce Kettler (47.7) was the top player for first-year Apex Friendship.
There were three players who shot a 35 on the back nine – Massei, Reyes and Riley – and 11 players who shot under 80 on the day.
“I hit 16 greens today, so my ball-striking was pretty good,” Massei said.
Massei’s 72 edged a trio of teammate Chris Kim, Scott and Bonfiglio by one stroke. Garewal shot a 75, Reyes a 76 and Panther Creek’s Kayden Roberts, Fuquay-Varina’s Williams and Justin Haire all shot 77s. McPartland carded a 78 and Riley a 79.
SWAC tournament finish
1. Green Hope 299
2. Panther Creek 305
3. Fuquay-Varina 315
4. Athens Drive 329
5. Middle Creek 331
6. Holly Springs 333
7. Apex 350
8. Cary 365
9. Apex Friendship 387
SWAC final season standings
1. Green Hope 98
2. Panther Creek 80
3. Fuquay-Varina 70
4. Athens Drive 64
5. Middle Creek 59
6. Holly Springs 47.5
7. Apex 42.5
8. Cary 22
9. Apex Friendship 12
Player of the Year: Viraj Garewal, Panther Creek
Coach of the Year: Chris Jones, Fuquay-Varina
Viraj Garewal, Panther Creek (36.0)
Jack Massei, Green Hope (36.6)
Austin Bonfiglio, Middle Creek (36. 9)*
Brian Chen, Green Hope (37.1)
Quinn Riley, Athens Drive (37.4)
Rob McPartland, Green Hope (38.3)
R.J. Reyes, Holly Springs (38.9)*
Seve Adfindsen, Green Hope (39.3)
Thomas Williams, Fuquay-Varina (39.4)
William Sturtevant, Fuquay-Varina (39.7)
Nico LaGrutta, Panther Creek (40.3)
Alex Scott, Panther Creek (40.4)
David Valcheff (40.6)*
Carter Cheek, Athens Drive (40.8)