James Bradley needed to find a way to create some separation between himself and Jack Breutsch. The two are friends, but very competitive on the golf course.
Bradley, an East Hampton freshman, sank a long putt for birdie on the par 4 13th hole and celebrated with a fist pump en route to his first Suffolk boys golf individual championship at Smithtown Landing on Tuesday.
"That was a big shot," Bradley said. "It was a 40-foot putt, luckily went in. But that was a big momentum booster going into the last few holes."
Bradley shot a 12-over 156 after the two-day, 36-hole tournament at Smithtown Landing. Breutsch, of Center Moriches, finished second with 159.
Bradley shot a 75 and Breutsch shot a 77 Monday, then Bradley shot 81 and Breutsch an 82 on Tuesday.
Bradley finished outside the top 10 as an eighth-grader and called that a learning experience to improve for this year’s championship.
"I’m just happy with the result," said Bradley, who was introduced to golf at age 8 by his father and grandfather. "I’m also happy to do it close to home, that means a lot."
Breutsch, a sophomore at Center Moriches, said although he hoped to win, he’s content with his performance over the two-day tournament. But he certainly aims for a better result next year.
"This is the most motivating thing that could have happened," Breutsch said. "To come in second and almost have it, now I have all the motivation and the fire I need in order to work as hard as I can and hopefully win it next year."
Breutsch said he and Bradley are friends, and often train and work together over summers. He’s excited for their varsity battles to continue another two years, as well as going against one another in other competitions.
"I’ve been playing with him ever since I’ve been like 9, 10 years old, so we have a friendship that goes back quite a while and hopefully it will continue," Breutsch said. "We are two good players that are from around the same place, so we are good friends and we’ll be playing with each other all summer and hopefully years to come."
Nick Stoecker finished third with a 160 and Gavin Girard was fifth with a 163 to lead Ward Melville to its third-straight team championship. Jake Bendowski, of Mount Sinai, finished fourth with a 162.
There are no state championships this year due to COVID-19, but Bradley said he hopes to be able to compete and possibly win that tournament with his three remaining varsity seasons.
"A big goal would be to go to states, maybe go on to win it," he said. "But I think this is a good step in the right direction."