The Suffolk high school boys golf championship came down to a pressure-packed, one-hole playoff. They call it sudden victory.
Comsewogue senior Anthony Naples and Commack junior Ayan Sheikh survived a field of 149 golfers in a two-day event at the Spring Lake Golf Course in Middle Island and the title would be decided by a playoff.
. The two were tied after two rounds, shooting 73 on Day One and 72 on Tuesday for a total score of 145.
A tee flip decided that Naples would hit first on the par-4 eighth hole. Naples drilled a 280-yard tee shot straight down the center of the fairway, setting up a clean approach to the green. His first putt set up a winning putt for par from 2 feet for the championship.
“I’ve been in a couple of sudden-victory situations and going first on the tee is always the difference,” Naples said. “My dad taught me that you always want to tee off first. You hit it well and there is additional pressure on your opponent.”
Sheikh drove his tee shot right of the fairway. He punched out to set up his third shot, a beautiful approach from 100 yards with a 52-degree club with backspin that had the ball roll down the green toward the cup. He two-putted for bogey.
“I definitely felt the pressure,” said Sheikh. “I was tight and even the sun was bothering me. It’s a tough spot.”
Naples, who won the Nassau-Suffolk Catholic High School Athletic Association title last year at the Eisenhower Park Red course, as a member of the St. Anthony’s golf team, had moved back to his home in Miller Place for his senior year.
“I missed all my friends,” Naples said. “I wanted to be challenged by a more competitive field than the one in the Catholic League. This was special.”
Paul Naples took in his son’s achievement from just off the eighth green.
“We don’t have a golf team in Miller Place, and Anthony played for Comsewogue as an eighth-grader,” Paul Naples said. “And he wanted to come back as a senior. What a finish.”
Naples said his ability to recover from a bad shot is the key to his success.
“I can bounce back from anything,” he said. “I hated the eighth hole on this course. Earlier [today], I was in trouble and somehow holed out with a chip out of the sand to save par.
Comsewogue coach Brett Thompson said Naples is a special player.
“I had him as an eighth-grader,” said Thompson, who is in his 16th year. “He has an amazing work ethic and practices every day. And he’s a great role model for the younger golfers. He makes everyone around him better.”
You can go home again. For Naples it was a win-win.