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Farmingdale brother-sister golfers compete on same team

Farmingdale senior Matt Lowe and sister Alix Lowe,

Farmingdale senior Matt Lowe and sister Alix Lowe, a junior, pose for a portrait after golfing the front nine of the Blue Course at Bethpage State Park. (Oct. 3, 2013) Credit: James Escher

Farmingdale High School golfer Matt Lowe has won rights to the front seat of the family car for a long, long time -- 2 billion days' worth, to be exact.

When he and sister Alix travel back from golf team meets in the family car, he sits in the front and she's almost always in the back, thanks to a standing wager.

"We'd bet like two days per win," he said as Alix rolled her eyes. "She double-or-nothinged until it got to 2 billion. Now I drive, but I'll still make her sit in the back when she loses."

So goes the mocking, competitive but affectionate relationship between two of the best high school golfers on Long Island. Unlike typical brother-sister athletic duos, Matt, 17, a senior, and Alix, 15, a junior, play on the same boys golf team, and have been doing so for four years.

Since Farmingdale doesn't have a girls team, Alix has competed on the boys varsity since eighth grade. This year, she's moved up to third golfer -- behind the 1-2 punch of Matt, the defending Nassau champion, and Kyle Brey.

So what is it like playing with her brother, the golfer who made headlines trying to qualify for the U.S. Open at 13 and who won the Long Island Amateur Championship in June at 17?

"It's always fun because we always bet and it's always a competition," Alix said. "He's improved my game a lot."

"By being so handsome," Matt interjected, playing with the wedge that never seemed to leave his hand.

"No," Alix shot back. "By just competing against him all the time. . . . I do let him walk all over me, though. . . . I try to throw it back and I just can't. I think it's funny."

That might have something to do with the fact that beneath all the barbs, the two have a very close relationship, said their mother, Carol Ann, who like her husband, Mike, and children, is an avid golfer.

"I think it's so great," she said. "If they'd played soccer, they wouldn't be so close. . . . It would be separate everything."

Back when Alix was less serious about golf, Matt would cajole his sister to come out to the course, she said.

"She got real tough, real quick," Matt said.

And now, she hangs tough with the boys she plays with and against. "Alix is so much more consistent this year," Farmingdale coach John Berardi said. "She plays from the boys tees and she just accepts it and it works." Now that she's shown vast improvement -- over the summer, she shot a 3-under-par 69 at Oceanside's South Bay Country Club and had a first-round lead in the AJGA Philadelphia Junior tournament -- Matt would like nothing more than to see her add to her trophy case.

It's been four years of serious competition for Alix, and "she's picking up some of the drive [her brother] has," Carol Ann Lowe said. Matt has won three straight county championships. But in 2012, he was beaten for the Nassau title by Annie Park, who like Alix, was competing with boys because her Levittown school district did not offer girls golf. "It was pretty interesting in the sense that didn't feel like I got beaten by a girl," Matt said. "I got beaten by unbelievable golf."

Along with a clear shot at a fourth high school title, the coming months will provide even further opportunities for Matt as he heads to the University of Richmond. Which brings another challenge to the tandem that has been golfing together since both could walk.

"It's going to [stink] when he leaves," Alix said. "That's when I'll really focus on me, instead of competing [with him]."

Matt, too, acknowledged the fun of having his sister around. "Well, I encourage her to come out [to play golf] all the time, and when she doesn't, I'm bummed," he said.

"Because he loves her," his mother shot back.

Matt smiled. "Yeah, I lo . . . um . . . I mean, no, she stinks."

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