BBA's Shehadi snags Classic medal

BENNINGTON - Tales of woe began to pile up near the clubhouse as players trickled in from different corners of Mount Anthony Country Club. Three-putts - or just too many putts - were everywhere, it seemed, with Tuesday's 18-hole Patriot Classic presenting the field with the slickest greens they had seen this season. Spring was still in the air, but the putting surfaces played like summer, firm and fast.

Just about everyone had a story, except for Burr and Burton Academy sophomore Joey Shehadi, who turned in his scorecard with minimal commentary and pivoted to join teammates on the practice green.

No worse for the wear, Shehadi shrugged off a back-nine three-putt - his only one of the day - by birdieing two of his last three holes to close with a 5-over 76, the low round of the day.

"He can adjust. He's just a good athlete. And he played well today," BBA coach Jeff Houghton said. "Joey, he just plays. He's got a great demeanor about him and you can't beat that."

Rutland, southern Vermont's dominant program the last two years, claimed the team titles. The boys' total of 325 was a dozen strokes clear of runner-up BBA and the girls (171), led by medalist Chloe Levins' 85, finished well clear of host Mount Anthony (208).

The Rutland boys got 78s from junior Max Major, medalist the last two years, and sophomore Drake Hull, and an 81 from Tyler Slusarczyk, but none of their powerhouse trio navigated the speedy greens better than Shehadi.

"We played in Taconic, in Massachusetts, and those were pretty fast, but honestly I think these were quicker than that and they didn't hold much," Shehadi said.

Playing in the No. 3 spot for the Bulldogs, Shehadi opened with a bang. After a low drive on the 18th hole, his first, came up short he stuffed a 7-iron to about a foot for a tap-in birdie, the first of four on the day.

"My last match I played in, last Friday at Manchester, I birdied the first hole and was like, 'Oh, this could go well,' and it kind of went downhill from there," he said. "But today I was just trying to make pars."

He rolled in a 15-footer for birdie on the par-4 15th, two-putted for another on the par-5 16th and finished with a par to secure a two-shot cushion. Colin Becker fired an 84, while Drew Herbert (86) and Hunter Caler (91) rounded out the score for BBA.

"The best thing about it is they always think they can do better, which is nice," Houghton said. "This is a good test for them this time of year. It's fun with Rutland and Hartford and MAU. They're all good to play with."

Hartford (343) was third among the boys, followed by host Mount Anthony (375). Ethan Anderson and Logan Ripley each shot 90 to lead the Patriots. Brad Anair (92) and Isaac Salem (103) also scored.

In brisk and breezy conditions, the hosts faced much different putting surfaces than what they had practiced on even the day before.

"They're quick. They're dried out," MAU coach Brian Harrington said. "I think the wind dried them out quite a lot by [when the tee time] rolled around."

Rebecca Romac shot a 102 Emalie Bushee a 106 for the Mount Anthony girls, who did not field a team last spring and are hopeful for next month's state tournament.

"Yesterday, [Romac] had a really good practice, shot in the low-40s, so she's capable of doing that, she's hitting the ball long enough," Harrington said. "She's getting there. There's good potential for the state tournament [in June]."


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