Peyton Macpherson could not have scripted a better moment for his finest round of golf.
The situation was huge: the Long Island boys golf team championship. And the stage was as grand as they come: Bethpage Black. All along the course stood the signage and grandstands from when the course hosted the PGA Championship just 10 days earlier.
This is where Macpherson, a Syosset freshman playing in the fifth spot on the six-man team, posted a career-best 77 to carry the Braves past Ward Melville 6 1/2 to 2 1/2 for their fourth Long Island crown and first since they took three straight from 1998-2000.
“We were 8-4 [in the regular season], but we have played our best golf at the right time and it has all come together for us,” Syosset senior captain David Alongi said. “We’ve done something we can all be proud of and put a trophy in the case at our school. And Peyton today? I don’t know where this has been, but wow.”
Macpherson’s only birdie came on the last hole of the front nine, but his most-dramatic shots came during the back nine. On the 13th hole, a 608-yard par-5, he hit a 60-degree wedge for his fourth shot to within a foot of the hole to make par. On the 16th hole, a 490-yard par-4, he recovered from a drive into the rough with a pitch into the fairway and wedge shot to within three feet of the hole that he called “possibly my top” shot of the round.
“Today was definitely my best day. I’ve never played this well, especially on a course this hard,” Macpherson said. “I was able to putt really well and the seniors had us motivated to win this Long Island championship.”
At the No. 1 spot, Alongi and Alex Korkuc halved with rounds of 85. At No. 2, Palmer Van Tuyl edged Ryan Millevoi, 86-87, on the strength of a tremendous chip from the rough at the green’s edge to within two feet of the cup on the 18th. The Braves also scored points with Michael Sung’s 83 earning a win at No. 3 and Ryan Morin’s 87 earning a win at No. 4. Mike Petraco scored the other Ward Melville point.
Syosset won the team aggregate, 419-445.
“Bethpage Black, it’s a very unforgiving course if you don’t hit the fairways and we didn’t,” Patriots coach Bob Spira said. “We didn’t have our best games today. It happens.”
Ward Melville was 9-1 in its regular season during the fall before winning the county championship by “about 40 strokes on a day when our guys were really on,” Spira said.
Syosset won the Nassau County title in 2014 but lost to Sayville in the L.I. Championship. Braves coach Dean Strohmayer said this year’s group was better built to win the championship. “There were a couple of great golfers on that team, but this one is very strong from top-to-bottom,” he said. “To win a team championship you need depth because there is scoring at every spot. It’s not a team sport where one or two guys can carry you.”