Adam Xiao had to wait a year to compete in his first NYSPHSAA golf championship after a conflict with a test left the Manhasset sophomore unable to compete in 2016 after winning the Nassau championship.
When he stood over the first tee during his practice round Saturday at Cornell University’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Course, he was finally able to take everything in.
“I really liked the course but the first hole was a little quirky,” Xiao said. “I looked up and thought, ‘what am I getting myself into?’ ”
After shooting a 1-over-par 72 on Sunday and a 74 on Monday, Xiao finished second to Nathan Han of Somers after three sudden-death playoff holes.
Xiao was looking to become the first Nassau golfer to win a state championship since Roslyn’s Adam Spring in 1987.
“It was a pretty relaxing 18 holes and even in the playoff,” Xiao said. “I’m pretty happy the way I played.”
Xiao carried a one-shot lead into Monday’s final round but fell into a tie with Han after he bogeyed the 10th hole and fell two strokes behind after the 14th.
After the rough stretch, he saved his best shot for the 18th. He stuck his second shot, about 220 yards from the hole, within 25 feet. He missed the eagle putt but tapped in for birdie to force the playoff.
“I have to work on my putting and my swing in general,” Xiao said. “There were just a lot of wayward shots on the last couple of holes where I didn’t know where it was going to go.”
Xiao said he had another chance to win on the second playoff hole but was unable to sink the putt.
“I drove it really well but my putting let me down,” he said.
In the end, Xiao took many positives from the weekend, including playing well during rainy conditions in the first round.
“The course was a good test and it was a great learning experience,” he said. “I’m definitely pumped to try and come back my next two years.”