Adam Xiao walked on to the first tee at Cornell on Monday staring down a six-stroke deficit. He walked off the course as a state champion.
Xiao shot a 4-under-par 67 on the second day of the state public school boys golf tournament to finish with a two-day score of 143 and become the first player from Long Island to win the event in more than 20 years. The Manhasset junior shot a 76 on Sunday to put him in a tie for eighth after the first round, but ended up winning the competition by two strokes.
“I made some mechanical adjustments and that really helped,” said Xiao, who is the first Long Island player to win the title since Sayville’s Jesse Fitzgerald in 1996 and the first from Nassau since 1987 (Roslyn’s Adam Spring). “I came in knowing anything can happen at Cornell’s course, so I had to try something new.”
The tweaks paid dividends early, as Xiao birdied the first hole. “I hit a great tee shot to start the day and that got me going.” He also birdied the sixth, 11th and 16th holes.
Xiao, who won his third consecutive Nassau county title in May, took second in the state last season, after falling in a third sudden-victory playoff hole. He said that made Monday’s victory feel even sweeter. “When I came back up this year, it still stung, not being able to have won it last year,” Xiao said. “To gain eight strokes on the leader to finish the job this time feels really good.
“The support from the other players, from Nassau, Suffolk and even players from other sections I have gotten to know was awesome,” he added. “Once the result was official, I got a lot of hugs and handshakes. That support from everyone was great.”
Shane DeVincenzo (Port Jefferson) and Cristian DelVecchio (Friends Academy) tied for 13th with a 153, and Max Van Son (Cold Spring Harbor) and Brendan Smith (Sayville) tied for 17th with a 154.