The Challenge Cup Championship is the longest running event on the U.S. Challenge Cup schedule, but this year the title went to a newcomer. Making its Challenge Cup Championship debut, Xaverian Brothers of Westwood, Mass., posted a team score of 648 to win the 32nd edition of the event by 11 shots over Moses Brown and Thayer Academy at Alpine Country Club in Cranston, R.I.
Making the win even more impressive was the fact that Xaverian had just four players in the event. All other teams in the ﬁeld had six players with the four best scores counting. “It was good to redeem ourselves after what happened at States last fall,” said Xaverian junior Colin Devin. Xavieran tied St. John’s Prep for the Massachusetts state championship in October, but lost the title in a card-off.
At the Challenge Cup Championship, however, the Hawks were in control from start to ﬁnish. They took an 11-stroke lead into the ﬁnal round and maintained that margin the whole way. Xaverian was led by freshman Andrew McInerney, who shot
157 (79-78). “I had a lot of three putts, the greens were pretty fast,” McInerney said. “And it was windy, so I was happy with the round overall.”
Junior Mark Lallak also shot 78 in the ﬁnal round for Xaverian and ﬁnished at 158 (80- 78). “The wind made it tough, but I felt like it was down wind a lot of the time,” Lallak said. “I just played smarter than I did the ﬁrst day. Knowing the course better helped, and I deﬁnitely putted better today.”
Senior Kevin McInerney ﬁnished at 166 (79-87), while Devin ended up at 167 (82- 85) to round out the scoring for Xaverian. “We weren��t too happy after states, so it feels good to win this one,” the elder McInerney said. “The course was in great shape, really nice actually. ”The X-men are hoping to return next year to defend their title. “Absolutely,” Lallak said. “We will be here.”
Moses Brown posted a team score of 659 (331-328) and was led by Riley Grifﬁn (78- 76). Thayer Academy, the 2011 Challenge Cup Championship winner, tied Moses Brown for second at 659 with rounds of 336-323. The 323 was the low team total of the second round, while Xaverian’s 320 on the ﬁrst day was the low team round of the tournament.
In the boys individual competition, Jake Bauer, a senior at Portsmouth (R.I.) High who is headed to Johnson and Wales University in Florida, cruised to a ﬁve-shot victory over the ﬁeld with a 147 total (74- 73).
“I said to myself over the winter that I wanted to play in a lot of Challenge Cup events this year and do something special, so this is pretty sweet,” Bauer said. The swirling, gusting wind made scoring difﬁcult for the 192 players in the ﬁeld, but Bauer was solid both days and said the tough conditions in the second round actually helped him focus.
“I played a match two weeks ago, and I forced so many shots because of the wind,” Bauer said. “I tend to overswing in the wind, so on the range before the round today I was really concentrating on my tempo and that helped me so much.”
There was a three-way tie for second as TianLin Zhang (75-77), Jason Short (79- 73), and Matt Corio (77-75) all ﬁnished at 152. Fresh off winning the Drive, Chip, and Putt National Championship at Augusta National at the start of Masters week and an 8th-place ﬁnish in an AJGA event, Patrick Welch (75-78) posted a two-day total of 153 (75-78) to ﬁnish in a three-way tie for ﬁfth with Maxwell Ferrari (76-77) and Andrew Flynn (77-76). Though Welch was T5 in the overall ﬁeld, he did win the boys middle school division.
In the girls division, Megan Khang won the Challenge Cup Championship for the ﬁfth time, carding rounds of 73-75 for a 148 total, seven shots better than runner-up Vinh-Hop Ngo, who shot 155 (76-79).
“The greens here were lightning fast for this time of year,” Khang said. “You can’t ask for anything better. But the wind deﬁnitely was tough. I was clubbing up one and sometimes two clubs, so it deﬁnitely had an impact. I had a rough double bogey on 16, but I bounced back with a birdie on 17, so that was a good sign.”