Ethan Nelson records a Hole in one at CHSAA state championships

Posted Saturday, June 02, 2007 by


(Original publication: June 2, 2007)
PLEASANT VALLEY - Jon Renza flashed a smile while he held a trophy that didn't seem much smaller than himself. The Fordham Prep freshman stood around enjoying his latest triumph, but he still didn't hesitate to announce his future plans.

"I'm just going to keep practicing and get better," he said.

The statement can only be bad news for other area golfers considering how much the diminutive golfer has already accomplished in his first year of high school. Yesterday, that amazing season continued as he claimed the CHSAA State Championship at James Baird State Park.

With a bogey on the 17th hole, the second hole of a sudden-death playoff, Renza defeated Michael Carrig of Bishop Timon in Buffalo. Playing together in the third group of the day, the two had both shot 3-over-par 74s in regulation, but had to wait more than two hours before heading out to the 10th hole for the playoff.

Both settled for pars on No. 10 after missing good birdie chances before a hard rain started to fall. Renza hit his drive into the right rough on No. 17, but Carrig's went farther right and needed two shots to get out from under a tree. Meanwhile Renza punched his second shot left of the green and then chipped on and two-putted for the win.

"I just wanted to get it close," said Renza, who had four birdies on the day. "I was thankful to come away with the win."

Renza became the first freshman to claim the title in the six-year history of the tournament. He also was the only area player to qualify for the Federation Championship June 10 at Carvel Country Club by finishing in the top six.

But the shot of the day unquestionably came from Stepinac's Ethan Nelson. The junior carded an 83, but it was highlighted by a hole-in-one on the third hole. Choking down on a wedge from 112 yards, Nelson's ball landed about two feet left of the hole before spinning into the cup.

"I knew it was a good shot," Nelson said. "It went in slow so I got to see it drop."

So did a fairly large number of players thanks to a back-up on the hole and the next group being just off the green when it happened.

"They all saw it so I had a lot of witnesses," he said.

Fordham Prep had five golfers in the 50-player field, but only Renza qualified for the Federation Championship. Sophomore John Hough, who narrowly missed last year as well, came the closest. He posted an 80, but was done in on the final hole. Thinking he needed a birdie, Hough hit his driver out of bounds, leading to a double bogey.

"I guess I'll have to use it as a learning experience," he said.

Also competing for Fordham Prep were seniors Jim Moore (83), Tyler Morgan (85) and Mike Bernacchia (87).

But on this day, youth was served, as Renza accomplished his goal of winning a state title.

"I've been playing well for awhile so I knew I had a good chance," he said. "I'm really excited."