Slumped in chairs in the clubhouse at Hillcrest Country Club in Hollwood last Monday afternoon, their faces told the story.
With by far the best boys golf team put together in more than a decade, the Miami Springs Goldens Hawks players looked like they had just lost a loved one as they watched late scores come in.
The event was the Region 8-3A golf tournament and, bubbling with momentums from a big upset of Columbus seven days earlier to claim the District 23-2A title, just 45 minutes earlier the four players had posted a team score of 304. A pretty good number for the tough par 72 layout.
Needing a second place finish or better among the nine competing teams to advance to the state tournament near Orlando in two weeks, Pat Bolton, Pat Perez, Luke Llaneras and Kyle Safreed were excited. They thought they had done enough. They thought they might be the first Springs boys golf team to make it to state in more than a decade.
So they thought.
Then in came the Cypress Bay scores – good ones.
When Cypress Bay’s Manuel Kent stood on the 18th fairway as the final golfer from either team on the course, he had a difficult 130-yard nine-iron shot into the wind into an island green. Even though Kent didn’t know it, everyone else did.
Cypress Bay led Springs by a single shot. Kent, two-over at the moment, needed a par. A bogey would’ve forced a playoff between the two teams. Kent did a lot better than par. He stuck that nine-iron eight feet from the cup and drained the putt for a birdie giving the Lightning a team score of 302 and punching their ticket to state.
“We gave it our best shot,” said Bolton, who shot a five-over 77. “We had our opportunities but just came up a little short. We really played well as a team today and felt it was good enough. This is just so disappointing because all four of us are seniors and this was our last shot at state. We really felt it was going to happen.”
The very same Columbus team that Springs had upset seven days earlier to claim the district title at Miami Springs Country Club returned to form for regionals as the Explorers went out and carded an impressive 295 team score to easily win the event.
“This is just horrible right now,” said Perez who led the way for the Hawks with a three-over 75 while Llaneras and Safreed each carded 76. “We really thought we had done enough and thought we were going to get there. I just can’t believe I’m sitting here knowing I’ve played my last competitive round of high school golf.”
“They did the best they could out there today and that’s just golf sometimes,” said Springs coach Roger Piermarini. “I’m proud of the boys because they really worked hard this year and had a tremendous season. They’re upset right now but they have plenty of golf left to play in their lives so hopefully they will look back on this season as a great experience.”