Timing Was Perfect

And the Long Island winners were, from the left, Jim McMullan, John Pizzo, Zach Grossman, John Nolan, Cameron Yusko, and Ian Lynch. Jack Graves

    When it seemed everything that had to be said about the county-champion East Hampton High School golf team had been said, Claude Beudert’s charges went out on June 1 and won the Long Island championship as well, defeating the perennial Nassau champ, Farmingdale, by four strokes on the Dalers’ home course, Bethpage Black, the scene of two U.S. Opens.
    The result apparently came as a surprise to the Nassau team’s coach, who had left the trophy, which his boys had won the past two years, at his house 10 miles away.
    Beudert, whose team had driven 2 hours and 15 minutes to get there, asked him after East Hampton had won the match by a 7-2 score (four individual wins plus 3 points for carding the lower aggregate score) to please go get it.
    “It was a 25-minute wait, but it was worth it,” Beudert said Sunday evening from Ithaca, N.Y., where his number-one, Zach Grossman, and number-two, Ian Lynch, were playing in the state tournament on a long course with elevated greens designed by Robert Trent Jones.
    Grossman finished 17th in the state tourney, with rounds of 81 and 74, thus earning all-state status for winding up in the top 20.
    Actually, Beudert added, he too had been a bit surprised by the Long Island win. “It was really like going into the lion’s den: Farmingdale had won the Nassau championship the past three years, it had won the Long Island championship two years in a row, and they had won Nassau’s championship this year by 51 shots.”
    The Bonackers played a practice round at Bethpage on Memorial Day, two days before they were to play for the Long Island championship, “and I got some good advice from Sayville’s longtime coach, who has 681 wins. He said not to worry about our score and to scatter some cocktail coasters on the greens, for the pin placements wouldn’t be the same on the day of our match.”
    Paul Dickinson, whose yardage book had helped Beudert’s undefeated players win the Suffolk County championship at Indian Island in Riverhead, had also made a detailed one — which Ian Lynch’s mother, Carol, copied — for Bethpage.
    “After six holes,” said Beudert, “Zach was losing by three, Ian Lynch was down four, John Nolan was down by seven, Cameron [Yusko] was up by four, John Pizzo was even, and Jim McMullan was up by six, though I knew Farmingdale wouldn’t use their sixth man’s score.”
    East Hampton trailed by 10 strokes going out onto the back nine, “but at around the 12th and the 13th, both long holes, things began to turn around,” East Hampton’s coach said. “Zach and Ian were playing together, and Zach said later that ‘we gave each other a pep talk. We agreed that it was easy to appreciate golf when you were playing well, but that on days like this you had to grind it out and focus on the match.’ ”
    Focus, they did. After 17 holes, Grossman was up by three, Lynch had pulled even, Yusko was up by eight, Pizzo trailed by three, Nolan had not given up any further ground, and McMullan was up by 16.
    “On the 18th, the guy Zach was playing [Matt Lowe, the Nassau champion] birdied, but Zach, who bogeyed that hole, sank a 12-footer to win his match by one, 77 to 78,” Beudert said. “Ian’s guy, Kyle Brey, blew up and Ian wound up beating him by five strokes. Cameron shot an 88 to Mike Saccone’s 96. John Pizzo lost by two, 96 to 94, John Nolan shot a 90 and the guy he played with, Mike Ezelanzy, had an 83, and Jim McMullan won by 16, 98 to 114.”
    “We won by four strokes over all, 434 to 438. Points-wise, we won 7-2, winning four matches and winning 3 points for the low aggregate score.”
    Asked about the course, Beudert said, “It’s long with elevated greens, which adds more yardage, and the greens are very tough. . . . The pins on the day of our practice round were where they were on the final day of the 2009 Open, and on the day we played for the championship they were where they were on the third day of the Open. I went that day.”
    Par at Bethpage is 72, said Beudert, who described Grossman’s round as “terrific . . . he shot 41 on the front nine and 36, even par, on the back. Ian shot 41 on the back and Brey shot 50. Ian made up nine strokes on him.”
    “That ride home was so great. Everyone was euphoric. The feel of the trophy was mystical. Really. It’s a beautiful piece of history. Twenty-six years of names. Southampton won it in ’93. It’s the best thing I’ve hugged since the missus. We passed it around, everyone sat with it.”
    “Then, when we got to Wainscott, we were met by the fire department, the police department, the sirens were sounding and all the parents and relatives were there. We got off the bus and everybody was hugging. Then a bolt of lightning struck and we all jumped back in. The kids were waving to people in the town on the way to the high school. The windows don’t come down very far. Jim McMullan tried to stick his head out, but he couldn’t. At the high school, they were having the spring sports awards that night, so the timing was perfect.”
    Nolan, who captained the team with Grossman, was given the trophy to hoist as he led the team through the front door, flanked by fellow athletes, coaches, and parents.
    “He’s been with me the longest, since he was an eighth grader,” Beudert said. “He’s the backbone of our team — a great kid.”
    In addition to making the all-state team, the Skidmore-bound Grossman, who is the defending Long Island junior champion, made the all-county team, as did Lynch, a sophomore who hopes to go to Yale. Yusko made the all-conference team, and Nolan, who’s going to Rensselaer Polytechnic Insititute in Troy, N.Y., made all-league. The team’s other senior, Chris Fallon, is joining the U.S. Marine Corps.
    Among those thanked in a letter Beudert wrote to The Star this week were East Hampton’s athletic department, the fire and police departments, the Maidstone Club, Poxabogue, and the South Fork Country Club, where the team plays its home matches.
    “Sam Snead once said that the mark of a great player is his ability to come back, and that all great champions have come back from defeat,” Beudert said in signing off. “We did that at Bethpage the other day. Our whole team did that.”