Article By: MIKE HAINES firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Maff didn't know exactly what his lead was coming down the stretch. He got to three under par early in Monday's District 11 golf championship and finished at four under, three strokes better than second-place finisher Evan Notaro of Northampton in the Class AAA tournament.
Maff knew he had to be at or near the top. And the Bethlehem Catholic freshman handled the pressure like a season veteran.
"I got some nerves," said Maff. "I just wanted to par out and not make any stupid mistakes."
Freedom's Helen Hsu won the AAA girls tournament, while Wilson's Collin Hagenbuch and Central Catholic's Franca Hurtado won the Class AA titles.
Maff birdied the first hole of Monday's tournament, held at Shawnee Golf Course. He got back to even with a birdie on No. 2, before making five birdies and a bogey over seven holes (Nos. 5-11) to get to four under par.
At that point he knew he could be leading the tournament and had to keep it steady the rest of the way. He made seven straight pars to finish his first 18 at 68.
He made a birdie and two bogeys on the first four holes of his final nine, but reeled off four pars and a birdie to finish at 104.
"I just played solid golf," said Maff. "I hit a lot of greens. I was pretty much just hitting greens and two putting for par."
Maff hit 20 of 27 greens in regulation, but got up and down for par five times while three-putting just once. His four-under par ties the district record score, which was set by Emmaus' Steve Bourbon in 1990 in a 36-hole tournament.
In August Maff won the high school division at the Owen McCall Tournament at Green Pond. That gave him confidence for a solid rookie season on the varsity team.
He called Monday's district title the biggest win of his golf career. He has a chance to top it as he and the top six boys players in each class move on to the PIAA Eastern Regional Tournament Tuesday at Golden Oaks Golf Course in Fleetwood.
Hsu also moves on to regionals. The Freedom High School sophomore wasn't thinking about where she stood on the leader board during Monday's tournament.
"I was focusing on myself," she said. "I wasn't thinking about any else's score because in the end I was only going to be happy with what I felt was a good score.
"I wanted to make good shots. I didn't think about what I wanted the score to be."
Hsu learned from last year's district tournament. She said as a freshman she worried too much about her score and "what affect one shot would have on the other. This year I just had fun."
Hsu shot 15-over par Monday. She made one birdie, 12 pars, 12 bogeys and two double bogeys. She played consistent golf, which has been the key to a season in which she dropped her scoring average seven strokes from last year.
"I went for lessons and it really helped me," she said. "Consistency is my big improvement."
Hsu has put a lot of time into her game since last year and it's paid off.
"This year I think there was a point where I played golf every single day for 21 days," she said. "And then I took a break."
Hsu and two other Class AAA District 11 girls players move on to regionals, where 12 players in a field of 25 will advance to the state tournament Oct. 22-23 at Heritage Hills Golf Course in York.
Maff enters a Class AAA boys regional field in which 50 players will compete for 24 berths into states.
District 11 Golf Championship Results
Top four earn medals; top six move on to regional
1. Nick Maff (Bethlehem Catholic) 104, 2. Evan Notaro (Northampton) 107, 3. Chad Hess (Parkland) 110, 4. Kevin Kunkle (Northampton) 111, 5. Carter Test (Northampton) 114, 6. Bret Howey (Nazareth) 115.
1. Collin Hagenbuch (Wilson) *108 won on fourth playoff hole, 2. Cole Miller (Northwestern) 108, 3. Eamon Marone 113, 4. Nick Vecellio (Northwestern) 117, 5. Michael Weinert (Tamaqua) 121, 6. Kyle Buchman (Notre Dame GP) 123.
Top four earn medals
1. Helen Hsu (Freedom) 126, 2. Kelsey Patterson (Emmaus) 135, 3. Loran Pritchard (Whitehall) 139, 4. tie Kiran Signh (Bethlehem Catholic), Emily Unrue (Easton) 142.
1. Franca Hurtado (Central Catholic) 126, 2. Justine Paul (North Schuylkill) 134, 3. Emily Rodgers (Central Catholic) 162, 4. Samantha Firestone (Pen Argyl) 167.
Hsu, Patterson, Unrue.
Hurtado, Paul, Rodgers.