Pittsford Sutherland junior Doug Kulikowski and Harley-Allendale Columbia senior Matt van Niekerk have both navigated the peaks and valleys of the game of golf.
Kulikowski advanced to the New York state golf championships as a freshman in 2011 and van Niekerk was the Class C Sectional champion in the same year, but both experienced challenges in 2012 that prevented them from the same level of success.
But on Saturday the past was the past as both, along with Romulus/South Seneca’s Harry Hyde, captured Section V championships in the Classification Sectionals at Ridgemont Country Club.
Kulikowski led the field with a 4-under par 76 to earn the Class A championship, while Hyde shot an 80 to earn Class B title and van Niekerk earned the Class C championship with a 2-over 78. The top 20 golfers advanced to the Supersectionals at 2 p.m. on Monday at Clifton Springs Country Club.
“I was playing pretty conservative all day and I was lucky enough to sink a few putts early to get me going,” said Kulikowsk who birdied holes 2, 3 and 5. “I was more conservative off the tee, and that may have hurt me, but it was good enough and I played pretty smart today and didn’t take a lot of risks.”
“I didn’t think I played well today, a 78 is not a winning score,” said van Niekerk. I managed to grind through after a rough stretch from holes 6-11, but I picked myself up and did quite well, but it’s not something to celebrate.”
After advancing to states as a freshman, Kulikowsk was hampered by a torn ACL his sophomore season and after undergoing surgery in July he couldn’t play again until December.
“To be able to come back and get my game back to where it was, I really am blessed,” he said. “But I am just trying to make it to states.”
Van Niekerk, on the other hand, was adjusting to a swing change last season.
“This time last year I fell off with my swing and had a rough go of it. I wasn’t feeling good mentally and was in a bad place. It took a lot of work over the past four months to get out of it that slump it feels really good to be back,” said van Niekerk.
Advanced to Monday’s supersectionals:
1. Doug Kulikowski (Pittsford Sutherland) 76; 2. Colin Dubnik (McQuaid) 77; 3. Matt van Niekerk (H-AC) 78; T4. Gunnar Doyle (Pittsford Mendon) 79; T4. Zak Ottman (Penfield) 79; T6. Andrew Galvin (McQuaid) 80; T6. Harry Hyde (Romulus/South Seneca) 80; T6. Evan Gaesser (Kendall) 80; T9. Chris Shalone (Geneva) 81; t9. Doug Uhazie (Penfield) 81; T9; Nick Musshafen 81; T12. Michael Lane (McQuaid) 82; T12. Patrick Hinkson (Lyndonville) 82; T15. Jack Gianniny (Pittsford Sutherland) 83; T.15 Jason Schantz (Brighton) 83; T15. Nick Helgeland (Jasper-Troupsburg) 83; T15. Drew Morabito (Batavia Notre Dame) 83; T15. Zach Chaddock (Fillmore) 83; T.19. Ben Hager (Pittsford Sutherland) 84; T19. Dave Lefebre (Greece Athena) 84; T. 19. Tyler Sullivan (Fairport) 84; T19. John Laplple (Batavia Notre Dame) 84.