Sep. 18—GREENFIELD TWP. — The hard part of golf is not always hitting the shot in front of you, but forgetting the ones in the rear view mirror.
Abington Heights’ Alec Hamilton and Cade Kelleher both did just that.
The teammates fired 3-over-par 75s, low scores in the field of 48 players, to earn overall medalist honors and top the Class 3A field in Monday’s District 2 Lackawanna League qualifying tournament at Elkview Country Club.
Hamilton was able to block out a three-hole stretch where he went from 1 under to 4 over, playing his final eight holes at 1-under par to lead 16 Class 3A qualifiers into the District 2 event Oct. 3 at Fox Hill Country Club.
Kelleher took a much smoother route to his 75, balancing six bogeys with three birdies as Abington Heights players posted four of the five scores in the 70s, Robbie Lucas and Robert Munley each posting 77.
“It’s pretty impressive how good our team is doing this year, and it’s fun to go out and play with my friends and just see all of us improve over the year,” Kelleher said.
Wallenpaupack’s Kevin Wortmann, the preseason Simons Classic tourney winner at Elkview, finished one back of Hamilton and Kelleher., who handled the pressure of the event by not putting any pressure on themselves.
“I’m not surprised,” Hamilton said. “When I play golf, I don’t have any expectations. I don’t feel like I have to shoot a good round. I play the course.
“I come in with low expectations so I don’t get added pressure on myself. I like to keep myself as cool as possible. I try to breathe and do that so I keep the pressure down. I come in every day to play the course. Don’t think of what happens four hours later. I stay in the now, here, not the future or the past.”
Pretty much the same key to Kelleher’s success.
“Most important to me is just forgetting about the bad shots that you hit and just worrying about your next shot,” Kelleher said. “I feel like every single time you play, your next shot is your most important shot. So, I feel like sticking to that has helped me.
“I’ve been in a little bit of a rut lately, but I’ve put in some work and I’ve been seeing some progress. So I knew I was due for a good round.”
The Golf Genius app, in use in a Lackawanna League event for the first time, allowed Kelleher and Hamilton, who started on No. 12 and 8, respectively, to keep an eye on the competition.
“I would say a poor golfer would let that get to his head,” Hamilton said. “To be a good golfer, you can’t watch someone else’s score. You have to play your own game.
“Me seeing the leaderboard, I didn’t care what some other guy shot. All I care about is this putt, the next hole and the next. It’s not the prior shot or one before that.”
He had enough to worry about after a triple-bogey on the par-5 17th, which played as the sixth toughest.
Regrouping, he birdied the par-5 first, then made seven straight pars to finish.
“On the back nine, I got more focused,” Hamilton said. “As everyone started finishing, the course opened up and the flow (was better).”
Kelleher took advantage of live scoring to keep track, but not obsess, over what was happening elsewhere.
“Playing in junior tournaments outside of high school, it’s convenient, and you can always just look at the leaderboard to see how you’re doing,” Kelleher said. “I think in ways it can help and hurt. If you’re too caught up in your leaderboard, seeing where you are, checking it every second, that can hurt you. But seeing if you need to go for a hole, it can help.”
So will playing the final 11 holes at 1-over par.
Last man standing
Wallenpaupack’s Grady Hearn earned the 16th and final spot in the district tournament, winning a four-player, one-hole playoff with Delaware Valley’s Chris U’Glay, North Pocono’s Jason Berkowitz and West Scranton’s Antonio Cordaro.
Hearn hit it in a greenside bunker in two on the par-5 first, then knocked it to 3 feet and made the putt.
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