This year’s Sebonack Challenge—which pits the top two varsity golf players from each of the public schools in the Town of Southampton against each other—was expected to be one of the most competitive in its nine-year history, with all four pairs evenly matched, and that’s exactly how it played out.
Just three points separated the tandems when they finished up 18 holes at the private club in Southampton on Friday evening, but it was the pair of juniors from Westhampton Beach—Cole Federico and Mackenzie Kim—who had the slight edge, winning with a combined 74. It was the second year in a row the Hurricanes have won the coveted best-ball format tournament, with Kim and Thatcher Cord having won it last fall. Pierson junior Henry Brooks and sophomore Tucker Schiavoni birdied the final hole to finish second with a 76, while Southampton freshman Jack Blackmore and junior Daniel Silverberg tied Hampton Bays seniors Sean Noonan and Gavin Grismer with a 77. It was by far the closest the four teams have ever been in the tournament and with some of the lowest scores.
“Obviously last year was special because it was the first one. I think it’s even more special to repeat with a different partner in harder conditions,” Kim said.
Federico said it’s long been a goal of his to play in the tournament, and the fact that he won it his first time was really special.
“I’ve been really wanting to play in the Sebonack tournament since seventh grade, watching Will Reid and some of the other legends of Westhampton play in it, so it’s great to play with Mackenzie, personally, and take home the victory,” he said.
The 18-hole private course at Sebonack is tough for any golfer, typically due to the winds that come off Great Peconic Bay, which abuts the course. The winds certainly played a part on Friday, but when clouds rolled in later in the afternoon the temperature dropped a good five degrees making for chilly temps as well.
Federico and Kim, with teammates Coady Sumwalt and Matthew Meyer serving as their caddies, played even on the front nine and had the lead when the teams regrouped after nine holes. Blackmore and Silverberg, with teammates Cole Yastrzemski and Steve Kraszewski serving as caddies, had the second best score at 2-over par, so the Canes and Mariners played the back nine together. Brooks and Schiavoni, with teammates Cooper Schiavoni and Brendan Burke caddying, and Noonan and Grismer, with caddy help from Joe Sapio and David Catena, were both knotted up at 3-over so they played together the rest of the way.
The back nine proved to be pretty difficult for all players but especially the leaders in Federico and Kim. Federico said he lost his putting game, and when Kim started to play a little off as well, they regrouped and it was words from their head coach Fred Musumeci who pushed them, they said.
“They played lights out on the front. We struggled on the greens on the back midway through the round,” he explained. “They were getting frustrated, and the only thing I said to them was, ‘Let’s see what you guys are made of. Forget about that, let’s just finish. Worry about your next shot.’ And they really pulled it together and it was great.”
Musumeci gave credit to Southampton’s pair who were only one shot behind before Federico and Kim were able to extend their lead after the 16th hole.
Having to settle for second place for three years prior to last year’s victory—the first in school history—Musumeci said it was nice his pair were able to come through again this year. They will be gunning for a third consecutive victory next season, but it won’t be easy, he said.
“Our league, I talk about it all the time, three of the four teams who play in this are in our league; look how good these kids played today,” he said. “And they’re young too, so there’s no guarantees, but we want to win it.”
The even play reflects that of the regular season, where East Hampton, Southampton and Westhampton Beach all tied for the League VIII title. Southampton forced the tie with a 6-3 victory over Pierson at Noyac Golf Club on October 16. All of the teams will now turn their attention to the postseason with league qualifying tournaments coming up this week and counties the following week, both at Rock Hill Golf and Country Club in Manorville.