The 2018 state champion, Manhasset Secondary School senior Adam Xiao, has played his last round of golf for his hometown. He won Nassau County for the fourth time in a row, a feat never achieved before by any high school golfer and came in fifth in the state tournament.
Bethpage State Park is the usual venue for the county tournament, but because of the PGA tournament, it was moved to Eisenhower Park. High winds reaching up 25 miles per hour and a tough course led to abnormally high scores for the participants.
“I felt confident going in,” said Xiao. “Did not have my best game. The course played extremely tough, it was super firm. I think the course superintendent and greenskeepers wanted to make it tough because it was a different site this year and they did not want to look poorly compared to Bethpage State Park.”
Xiao would shoot 81 on the first day and 75 on the second for an uncharacteristic 9-above par. His score, however, would lead all others in the field by two strokes confirming his fourth straight county title.
States would prove to be stiffer competition for the county champ. The tournament has been held at Robert Trent Golf course, Cornell University’s golf course, for the last 20 years.
“On the inside there was the tiniest bit of pressure to repeat. I wasn’t really thinking about that, I was just trying to play the best I can. I go into that mindset each and every tournament. I’m just trying to do the best I can. If I win, that’s great. If I don’t, come up a little short–that’s fine,” said Xiao, who is committed to play golf at Harvard next year.
Xiao would shoot better than he did at the county tournament. He shot 74 on the first day and ended the second day at 75. At 7-above par, he would not defend his title, but finish in a respectable fifth place.
“Struck the ball poorly, swing did not feel right,” said Xiao. “The only positive thing that came out of the tournament was my putting. I found my putting stroke while I was there. Without my putting I would have played a little worse. Everything else I wouldn’t say is a negative, but for me it’s working points. What I need to work on.”
Nathan Han of Somers High School would win the state tournament. A player that Xiao knows well, they have played junior golf together since they 10-years old. Han will be playing for Columbia University in the fall so this will not be the last time the two go up against each other again.
Players like Han are what Xiao wants to go up against in the upcoming months. He plans on trying to qualify for the New York State Open Championship and Metropolitan Open Championship. He knows what he needs to work on now to be able to accomplish those goals.
After coming back from states on a Monday night, Xiao went to the golf course to work on his swing for the next four straight days. He is not looking back at states as opportunity waisted, but rather a learning experience to change and better his game.
“Had I won states with the swing that I have been using, I would have been fooled into believing I was using a fool-proof good swing,” said Xiao. “For me, it was a wake-up call to work hard over the summer.”
Xiao has been playing for Manhasset High School’s golf team since the seventh grade and has built a legacy that goes further than his hometown.
“It was a hell of a six years,” said Xiao. “Winning the county championship four times, no one has ever done that. I know I did not have my best game at counties this year, but to be able to say I’m the first won to ever win four is really cool. It’s something I will be remembered for and I won’t take it for granted.”