McHugh outduels Ito in playoff to win Federation title

McHugh outduels Ito in playoff to win Federation title


McHugh outduels Ito in playoff to win Federation title


Rye's James McHugh won the state Federation golf tournament in a playoff at Bethpage Black.

Rye’s James McHugh won the state Federation golf tournament in a playoff at Bethpage Black.

What was already a banner spring for James McHugh and Section 1 golf ending in fitting fashion Sunday.

McHugh, the two-time sectional champ, won the state Federation golf tournament at Bethpage Black in an all-Section 1 playoff, nipping Ardsley’s Brent Ito on the first playoff hole.

McHugh and Ito each fired a 7-over 78 in trying conditions, but McHugh tapped in for par on the first playoff hole after reaching the par-4 first in regulation.

The event was McHugh’s last as a high school golfer. Although he has committed to Penn State and is just a junior, his athletic eligibility has expired. After narrowly missing a playoff at last week’s state tournament, this was a satisfying finish.

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“It was great to go out on a good note, especially after the disappointing finish at states,” said McHugh, who tied for fifth at states, finishing two shots behind the winner, Bronxville’s Connor Daly. “It was great to mend my high school career and start the summer with a win. I can hopefully take this and keep the ball rolling.”

In Saturday’s practice round, McHugh edged Ito in a friendly match with both players shooting around par. The two top finishers and the rest of the field saw scores soar on Sunday as players were forced to combat blustery conditions on one of the nation’s most daunting layouts.

Only three players broke 80 as the swirling winds left the majority scratching their heads. Kennedy’s John Del Priore finished a shot back after posting a 79. The sophomore also placed third at last week’s CHSAA state tournament.

“The conditions were crazy,” said Hackley freshman Charlie Hite, who shot an 84 after qualifying by placing second in the NYSAIS tournament. “The wind was howling in all different directions. It was hard to judge if you were going downwind or playing into the wind.”

McHugh found out during his round that he and Ito were close, but the Rye junior thought he had squandered his chance to win after a couple bogeys on his closing holes.

After learning the two had tied, both McHugh and Ito smashed their playoff-opening drives over the right rough, hoping to carry the trees on the dogleg-right hole. Ito’s ball clipped the trees and forced him to pitch out while McHugh safely found the fairway. Ito then had a par putt of about 20 feet that missed. McHugh was just inside him, but he safely two-putted for par.

“It was awesome to play the playoff with him,” McHugh said of Ito. Both players helped Section 1 earn the team title at last week’s state tournament.

“I am really good friends with him. We were making jokes the whole time walking up the fairway. It was a lot of fun.”

Daly, the state champion, finished fourth after an 80. Stepinac’s Paul Terminello, who was second in last week’s CHSAA state tournament, shot an 82. Fordham Prep’s John Mikus, a Larchmont resident, carded an 83. Iona Prep’s Sebastian Nabahio shot an 86 and Rye Country Day’s Charles Jolly a 102.

Terminello birdied two of his last three holes on the front nine, but his fortunes turned later in the round as both the wind and course showed their teeth during Bethpage’s punishing closing stretch.

“I thought I played all right up until hole No. 11, but over the next seven holes it was extremely difficult to even make a par,” Terminello said.



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