Tyler Gerbavsits and Matt Giamo dropped every shot they need to make in a pressure filled round as the Huntington High School teammates both qualified for the state golf championships at Cornell University.
Golf has been referred to as a “good walk spoiled” by those who find it especially bedeviling, but for the Blue Devil golf team’s two best players, it’s a game they love and can play in spectacular fashion.
The state finals are set for Saturday, June 2 – Monday, June 4 at Robert Trent Jones Golf Course at Cornell University in Ithaca.
Huntington seniors Tyler Gerbavsits and Matt Giamo
have qualified for the state golf championships.
The Huntington links stars both shot 77 on the first day of the two-round competition last Tuesday at the Rock Hill Golf & Country Club in Manorville to move into a good position for making a run at All-County honors, but they were still outside the top nine positions that qualify for the state championships. The duo was in a tie for 12th place entering the final day of the Suffolk tournament.
“Nine is the magic number for Suffolk county golfers as it reserves a spot for them on the coveted Section XI state team,” explained Huntington varsity golf coach Michael Marinello.
What happened last Friday is the stuff Blue Devil legends are made of. “They knew what they had to do, but to execute this task under extreme pressure is easier said than done,” Marinello said. “This is what separated Tyler and Matt from a very talented field. The pressure was put upon these kids and with golf being such a fragile game, anything can happen. They were aware that everything they had worked extremely hard for could disappear in one bad swing. This was a remarkable performance by both Tyler and Matt. I hope everyone knows what an amazing accomplishment this is.”
The two Blue Devil seniors have been mainstays of the Huntington golf program. The duo was looking to make their final round in high school play on a Suffolk course something special and they did.
Friday turned out to be special day for the two exceptional teenagers. Gerbavsits jumped off to a quick start, hitting the par five second green in two shots and making a birdie. On the par three fourth hole, he launched a shot deep into the woods. His shot out of the woods bounced over the green and left a 60 foot putt up and over a ridge and then sloping back to the hole.
“I was hoping Tyler would two putt, but three putts was more likely,” Marinello said. “I watched the putt hit the hill and move to the hole, hit the pin and drop in. That was the shot of the championship. Tyler was on cruise control after that. He played a beautiful game and was in total control, parring all but one hole on the back nine to finish with an even par 71 and safely claim his spot on the state team.”
Giamo’s route to Cornell was entirely different. A pair of double bogies over the first nine holes put the teenager’s hopes of qualifying for the states in real jeopardy. A six over par 41 on the front looked ominous to all the scoreboard watchers. “The kid never hung his head,” Marinello said. “He told me, ‘Coach I’m going low on the back nine,’ and low he went.” Giamo went on to shoot an even par 36 over the final nine holes.
As the county tournament leaders finished their respective round, Giamo was still unsure of his fate. The pressure ratcheted up a few more notches when the Huntington senior was forced into a three-way playoff for the final two spots on the Section XI state team.
After a drive into the left rough, which narrowly avoided the bunkers, Giamo hit a laser seven iron shot to the pin. Left with a four-footer for par to earn his ticket to the state championships, the Huntington senior struck a putt that hit the bottom of the cup and “ended the matter,” Marinello said.
To say the Blue Devils were deliriously happy with the result would be an understatement. “Walking back with Tyler and Matt after his playoff victory was one the most satisfying moments I have ever had in coaching,” Marinello said. “Watching two determined competitors; two great friends, both of whom I’ve known since seventh grade walk off so happy; well it was a storybook ending.”
The two Huntington golf greats are walking around on proverbial Cloud Nine. “I can’t imagine going out any better, especially with my best friend and teammate,” Gerbavsits said. “The pin placements were really tough out there. It took a lot of focus to keep myself at even par.”
Gerbavsits reached the state championships as a sophomore before missing the cut at this same Suffolk state qualifier for last year’s New York finals. This will mark Giamo’s first appearance in the state championships.
“It’s just great that Tyler and I both got to qualify,” Giamo said.