The Ward Melville boys golf team reclaimed its position at the top of Suffolk on Saturday.
Senior Palmer Van Tuyl led the way for the Patriots, shooting a 1-over 37 on the back nine at Rock Hill Country Club in Manorville as No. 2 Ward Melville defeated No. 12 Southampton, 8-1, in the Suffolk boys golf team final, capturing the program its second consecutive county title.
Van Tuyl said the leadership of coach Bob Spira, as well as quality team chemistry, make Ward Melville (15-0) one of the elite boys golf programs throughout all of Long Island.
“This program is one of the strongest programs I think on the Island, not just Suffolk County,” Van Tuyl said. “I feel that the leadership of our coach and the relationship the players have together has enabled our success. I think it’s pretty synergistic and the fact that we all like to play with each other outside of the team is a big factor.”
“I’m really proud of the team,” Spira said. “The boys worked really hard all season. They’re constantly out playing, putting and chipping and working on their game.”
Gavin Girard also played a large role for the Patriots, shooting 2-over 38. Nick Stoecker and Mike Petraco both shot 6-over 42.
“We have a very solid team and I think our depth is the key to our success,” Van Tuyl said. “Not just having a solid one and two, but a good team all around. I’m really pleased with our team’s success.”
For Van Tuyl, the key to his success on Saturday was “driving the ball well, keeping the ball in play, and not missing that many greens.” His two best holes of the day were the sixth and seventh during the semifinals, where he birdied both holes.
“Palmer’s been on the team for five years and he’s come a long way,” Spira said. “He’s always been a solid golfer but this year he’s been lights out.
"We wouldn't have been successful without the support of the courses we've played on," Spira said. "St. George's Country Club, our home course, Mill Pond has been very helpful and all the courses have helped us out. We really appreciate it,"
Girard expressed excitement in regards to the program’s future.
“We’re a very young team and we hope to duplicate it in the future,” Girard said.
Van Tuyl will now shift his focus to the individual championships, which will also be held at Rock Hill on Monday and Wednesday.
“I’m feeling pretty good going into that,” Van Tuyl said. “I’ve been working with my coaches and father for the past few weeks, trying to get myself mentally prepared for it ... They’ve really helped me feel that I can play well and compete with the best players out there.”