Throughout his travels, as a Division I golfer for Lehigh and a medical school student in the Philippines, Sean Keller of West Islip never forgot the joy of growing up on Sumpwams Creek Golf Course in Babylon. Now, the course will never forget him.
Keller has the course record, a 5-under-par 22 that he shot Sunday with his dad after a day at the beach. The 25-year-old knew that he and others had shot 24 and that no one ever had gone lower. After getting up and down from the eighth tee box for par on No. 7, he said, “I made good shots on 8 and 9. I knew where I stood and I didn’t let my nerves get the best of me.
“I was really nervous coming down to the end. Why wouldn’t I? I wanted it. The course has a very special place in my heart,” he said of the layout officially known as E. Donald Conroy Golf Course. He played matches there when he was an all-Suffolk high school golfer. He also played junior tournaments and many practice rounds, learning from the late pro, Joe Malloy.
“This is almost a testimony to him. He was always putting in a good word for me to get me in MGA events,” Keller said. “This is something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
In two weeks, he will carry the new memory back to the University of the East in Manila, where he will begin his third year of medical study. “It’s a totally different life. My mom is Filipino so I was a little bit aware of the culture. People are very, very friendly and it’s one of the best life experiences I’ve ever had.”
So was the 22. “If someone does shoot 21,” he said, “hats off to them.”