Great Neck girls golf team wins county team title again, Wong wins individual crown

Great Neck girls golf team wins county team title again, Wong wins individual crown

There is a lot of training that goes into being a great golfer. Usually, it’s mental training (the ability to let go of a poor drive or putt and prepare for the next shot) or swing training (fixing that troublesome hitch).

But sometimes, as Great Neck girls coach Matt Corrigan explained, the training is physical. Walking an 18-hole course two days in a row, which is what’s required to win the Nassau Co. team title, isn’t the easiest thing to do.

So this year, a few days before the tournament at Bethpage State Park, Corrigan took his mostly young team to the links and had them simulate the tournament.

“Most of these girls had never done that before, getting your legs in shape for that kind of physical effort,” Corrigan said. “If you don’t play tournament golf regularly, you’re only used to playing nine holes in our (league matches). So it was really important for us to do that.”

Whatever Corrigan and his team seem to do, always works. On May 21 at Bethpage, the combined Great Neck schools team won its fifth straight Nassau crown, holding off a stiff challenge from Roslyn to win by two strokes; Great Neck finished with a score of 856, with Roslyn (858) and Friends Academy (906) right behind.

And to add to the success, Great Neck sophomore Caylin Wong captured her first individual crown, beating good friend and defending champ Manhasset’s Madison Chen by just one stroke. Wong fired a two-day, 4-under par score of 138 on the Bethpage Yellow and Green courses.

“I played how I wanted to play and was pretty calm until the very end,” Wong said. “But on the last tap-in putt, I felt everyone watching me, I knew what was at stake, and I could see my hands literally shaking. I had to really think about calming down and breathing.”

“Can’t say enough about how well Caylin played,” Corrigan said. “Her talent level is off the charts, so it was just a matter of her developing her mental game and having that click into place. This year, that belief in herself really kicked in. She’s humble, but I’d almost call it a swagger.

Corrigan laughed.

“She’s totally blushing sitting next to me as I’m saying that,” Corrigan added, “but it’s true.”

For Great Neck, the team triumph wasn’t as straightforward as it has been in the past year. After the first day of competition on May 20 Roslyn led by four strokes, 422-426.

“We knew they were really good, but we also knew we could play better,” Wong said. “Our back 9 (on the first day) was better than the front nine, so we knew we were trending in the right direction.”

On Day 2, a key substitution by Corrigan put sophomore Vanessa Keilbach into the lineup, and her steady play, shooting a 94, helped Great Neck.

Sophomore Lia Huang, Great Neck’s No. 2 golfer, fired an 84 on Day 2, while senior Sophia Leong shot a 93 to help the cause.

“It really came down to the bottom half of our lineup all playing well,” Corrigan said, alluding to Leung, 8th grader Megan Lu, and junior Audrey Gao. “Those kids all played so well under pressure and it took everyone to win this again.”

Great Neck goes for its third straight Long Island Championship on May 29 against Southampton at Middle Village Country Club.

Wong and Chen, Manhasset’s Casey Mack (who finished fourth at counties), and Wong’s teammate Huang are also advancing to the individual state tournament, which will be held at the Edison Club in Rexford, near Albany, on June 1.

Roslyn’s Lydia Choi and Lara Cohen also qualified for states, finishing tied for fifth at the county match, Wheatley’s Audrey Chen (tied for seventh) and Herricks’ Evelyn Chou.


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