2013-05-30 / Sports

Barnes Makes Carmel History on the Greens Senior wins Section One golf championship

RICH THOMASELLI


Gray Barnes tees off Tuesday at the Centennial Cup match. 
PHOTOS BY CHRIS LAYTON Gray Barnes tees off Tuesday at the Centennial Cup match. PHOTOS BY CHRIS LAYTON WHITE PLAINS – At the end of Day 1 of the two-day Section One golf championships last week, Carmel High School’s Gray Barnes had the lead all to himself and his coach, Rich Nordt, had a question.

“I asked him if he was nervous or felt the pressure having to carry the lead into the second round,” Nordt said.

Replied Barnes: “Um, no, not really. It’s just golf. I play it everyday.”

It’s that kind of refreshing response that carried Barnes to history, as the senior became the first golfer in Carmel history to win the sectional golf title when he beat Nyack’s Alex Ferrante by dropping a birdie on the first playoff hole at White Plains’ Fenway Golf Club.

“This means the world to me,” Barnes said. “I’ve been getting so many congratulations the last couple of days. I went from just another golfer to section champion.”

Barnes was one of nine golfers from Section One to qualify for the New York State championships this weekend at the Robert Trent Jones Course at Cornell University.

After shooting a 73 on the first day, Barnes shot a 77 on the second day. He knew he was playing well enough to finish among the top nine to earn a berth in the state tournament – he hit 12 greens in regulation on each day – but he wasn’t quite sure of his place in the sectional tournament.

“Coming in from the back nine I didn’t know how the scores were. I didn’t know if I was winning, going to win, or if I was down by four strokes or something,” Barnes said.

But there he was, tied with Ferrante at the end of regulation and staring at a 290-yard par-4 playoff hole. He chose a 5-iron and, well, as Nordt said with a laugh, “It wasn’t the best 5-iron he ever hit.”

“I caught it from behind and hit it about 160 yards. I still had 130 yards to go,” Barnes said.

The second shot was pressure-filled given that Ferrante’s tee shot nearly reached the green. But Barnes pulled a wedge out of his bag and stuck it to within 10 feet of the hole. Ferrante’s second shot wasn’t nearly as good, and he two-putted for par.

That left Barnes with the birdie putt for the title.

“That’s when I got nervous,” the senior said. “There were a lot of people all of a sudden, a lot of cameras. I thought about what that putt meant. But I just went through my usual routine and fortunately I knocked it in.”

Barnes said that going into the Section One tournament, he was just hoping to qualify for states after missing the cut last year. But after coming out of the first round with the lead, “things change. You start thinking about new expectations.”

Nordt said he an inkling that Barnes was going to do well.

“He’s been red-hot his last five matches,” Nordt said. “He works hard. He plays 12 months a year, including at a golf performance center. This couldn’t have happened to a nicer kid. He’s very mild-mannered. He’ll joke around with his teammates, encourage them, help them. But when he’s on the golf course he’s all business. He’s just a great kid to be around.”

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