There’s a certain demeanor that goes with the Plantation American Heritage golf team this season.
It shows in the players’ faces, and you can hear it in their voices.
They know they failed last year when they didn’t win the state championship that so many expected them to, and they aren’t going to forget that hurt. And while they think they need to remember last year as a motivating factor, they refuse to dwell on it.
It’s a reminder, not an obsession.
This past week, the Heritage players strode down the fairways at Providence Golf Club in Tavares, and with each step moved further and further away from the bad memories of a year ago by winning the team and individual titles in the Tournament of Champions, an event that invites the top four teams in each classification from last year’s state high school tournament.
Led by Ty Strafaci’s individual victory with rounds of 72 and 67 for a 5-under-par 139 total, Heritage won the team title by two strokes in the high school season’s biggest event other than the state championship.
“Yes, we think about it — think about it a lot,” Strafaci said of last year’s state championship loss. “There’s motivation from that loss. We are always reminding each other this year to stay focused.”
On the first day of the Tournament of Champions, the Patriots were 8-over as a team but came back on the second day to go 7-under.
Strafaci, a junior who has already committed to Georgia Tech, was joined by Jorge Garcia, Kristian Caparros, Matt Mourin, Wade Howard and Turner Grass in gaining the Champions victory.
This year will be the end of a long road for this group of Heritage players. Strafaci returns next season, but four players who have been his teammates for five years — Garcia, Caparros, Mourin and Cole — are seniors and will be leaving.
“We feel like we have a good shot at state this year, and we wanted to get off to a good start at the Champions event,” said Strafaci, who had a stellar summer season on the American Junior Golf Association Tour (the nation’s elite players) and the Florida Junior Tour (Florida’s best).
“Last year, we got way ahead of ourselves,” he said. “We didn’t stay in the present. And golf is a game where you need to stay in the present.”
In the 2012-13 school year, Heritage won the state title, and virtually the entire team returned a year ago, setting the expectations of a second straight title that never came about.
“That makes winning this year even more important,” Strafaci said. “Right now, it feels like we’re doing a really good job. The chemistry is good, and scores are getting lower and lower.”
UM Hall tourney
The University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame will hold a celebrity golf tournament on Friday at the Biltmore Golf Course in Coral Gables.
The tournament begins with registration at 11a.m. and will include lunch by the Hole in the Wall Pub. Golf will begin at 12:30p.m.
The tournament will benefit the Hurricane Victory Club, and proceeds from the event will go toward a new student-athlete dining area and upgrades to the Greentree Field.
That’s a fact, Jack
Bubba Watson ranks No.1 on the PGA this season with an average driving distance of a mere 314.3 yards. The Tour average is 288.3 yards. However, there is one downside for Bubba. As everyone knows, his drives don’t always split the middle — he ranks 102nd in driving accuracy.