By PATRICK STROHECKER
When York Catholic’s Nick Geiman looks back at the 2014 PIAA Boys’ Class AA State Golf Championship, he’ll likely lament two holes that prevented him from being the top small-school player in Pennsylvania.
After shooting an opening round 1-over par 73 on Monday, Geiman found himself only one shot back of Sewickley Academy’s Jason Li heading into Tuesday’s final round. A hot start saw Geiman erase his one-stroke deficit and build a two-stroke lead heading into the par-4 sixth, but that’s when Geiman’s title hopes began to slip away.
Two consecutive drives that missed left and went out of bounds led to Geiman making a quadruple-bogey eight on the hole. His two-shot lead quickly turned into a two-shot deficit, one that he could never recover from en route to final-round 77 and two-day total of 150, finishing in third place, five strokes behind Li, who shot a final-round 73.
“I would’ve hit driver regardless on six,” Geiman said. “I always do. The fairway’s a little smaller than the green, so it just makes sense for me. It was just two bad swings. I mean, normally, I wouldn’t hit it out of bounds there.”
The stunning turn of events seemed to take the aggressiveness out of Geiman’s play, forcing him to play catch-up the rest of the round, while always being reminded of the bad swings that haunted him on No. 6.
“You start thinking. You think about all the bad things,” he said. “Like, I get to No. 7’s tee and I’m thinking ‘OK, I don’t want to do the same thing I did on six because then I’ll be out of bounds again’ … I got to seven’s tee and thought ‘just make par to get back on track,’ when usually seven is a birdie hole.”
Geiman settled himself after the disastrous sixth hole, finishing the front nine with a 38, only three strokes off of Li’s lead. The two battled for much of the back nine, with Li’s lead hovering around two or three strokes until Geiman stepped up on the 16th tee and hit his ball into the hazard left of the fairway. His focus slipped after that, making a double-bogey to fall to 7 over for the tournament, while Li made a crucial birdie, creating a three-shot swing and opening up a sizeable advantage over Geiman and eventual second-place finisher Roland Massimino from New Hope-Solebury, who closed with a 72 on Tuesday and finished with a two-day total of 149.
The wayward tee shot came on one of the many holes that Geiman said doesn’t fit his eye on the course. Irish coach Bill Brander added that one of Geiman’s strengths is that he plays a high fade, which, for a lefty such as Geiman, means hitting the ball from right to left. It allows for Geiman to start the ball down the right side of holes and play into the middle of the fairway, staying away from the trouble that lines the left side of many of the holes. But in this case, the fade caught up to Geiman and ultimately spelled the end to his hopes at a state crown.
“I’m just disappointed because he’s a senior,” Brander said. “He came so close, but those two holes really did him in. That’s golf.”
Geiman’s fast start looked promising for him to give the York-Adams League a repeat Class AA state champion, after Fairfield’s Isaiah Logue won the competition the past two years. Geiman opened up Tuesday’s round with birdies on holes two through four, including making a 40-foot birdie putt on the third hole, before the disastrous sixth hole halted his fast start.
Still, Geiman found himself in a spot he strived to be in leading up to the event. All he wanted was a chance to play with the leaders and go toe-to-toe with them in a battle to be named the state’s best Class AA golfer.
“He was where he wanted to be,” Brander said. “He wanted to be with the leader and play the leader shot for shot, but Jason was just better today.”
OTHER GOLF NOTES:
Joe Parrini ties for sixth: Geiman’s York Catholic teammate, Joe Parrini, ended up tying for sixth place in the Boys’ Class AA tournament. The freshman shot identical 77s in the two rounds. He moved himself into contention during his front nine, but an up-and-down three-hole stretch between holes nine through 11 saw him make a triple-bogey seven, a birdie and then a bogey, halting any late charge he had in him. The 144 total had him nine strokes back of Li.
Lauren Parrini struggles: The York Catholic senior struggled in her final state tournament, posting a 94 on Day 1 of the tournament and following it up with a 91 on Tuesday. The 185 total had her finish in a tie for 13th, 26 strokes behind the Girls’ AA winner, Olivia Zambruno of Greensburg Central Catholic. The AAA girls’ title went to Radnor’s Brynn Walker, who won in a playoff over Canon-McMillan’s Lauren Waller. Both finished with 146 totals.
Central’s Minkin ties for eighth: Central York’s Gus Minkin finished in a tie for eighth in the Boys’ Class AAA tournament. The junior played consistently throughout the 36-hole competition, posting rounds of 75 and 76 in the two days, putting him six strokes back of Vinay Ramesh of Pennsbury, who won the AAA crown in a three-hole playoff. Minkin started the day six strokes behind first-round leader Kevin Conners of Bishop Shanahan, but instantly got his round going with back-to-back birdies to move him to 2 over for the tournament. The hot start was quickly negated with a double bogey on the par-4 fourth, which he followed up with a bogey on the sixth hole. Minkin concluded his round with a double bogey on No. 16 and then a bogey on the 18th.
Irish not done yet: York Catholic will conclude its season on Wednesday by taking part in the Class AA team state competition. The Irish will be led by Geiman, the Parrinis, Andrew Forjan and Ryan Deporter. The team competition is scheduled for a 9 a.m. shotgun start.
“That was our team goal … to win states,” Brander said. “We had some individual goals and we had team goals and everyone of them wanted their goal to be to win states.”
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org.