Swinging to Success
Published: September 12, 2013
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Golfers will take a hot streak just about any time they tee up for competition.
Being able to fire a low round when the stakes are high is a bonus but, more importantly, it is a rarity.
Abington Heights senior Anthony Sebastianelli delivered a stretch of golf he'll likely remember for a long time when the Comets participated in the 50th Jackman Memorial at the Scranton Municipal Golf Course on Friday, Aug. 16. Birdies on the sixth, eighth, ninth, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th holes sent Sebastianelli to a four-shot victory with a blistering 5-under-par 67.
Despite the overwhelming margin of victory and sparkling score, the senior believes being the Jackman champion won't make a difference on how he approaches the remainder of the season.
"It didn't affect my expectations," Sebastianelli said. "It has helped to jump start my senior year of golf. It has helped my confidence."
Last month, Sebastianelli knew he would be in for a long day in the Jackman, something that wouldn't work to his benefit, but shrugged off any displeasure he might have felt just to keep his focus on shooting a low score.
"I just hoped to play well," Sebastianelli said. "I'm a fast player and the Jackman is always a slow round. I had to keep telling myself that it would be slow."
Because the pace of play wasn't to his liking, the senior did not even pencil in a target score he would aim for. He did, however, have a general idea of what it might take to win, and wanted to achieve a low score despite the conditions not being to his liking.
"I didn't go there with a score in mind," Sebastianelli said. "I thought I might need a 71 to get into a playoff."
He would have been right, as Elk Lake's Cole Tyler fired a 1-under-par 71 to be the low sophomore and place second overall in the event. But Sebastianelli's staggering round made him the individual champion by five shots.
The round should also have lingering effects over the Lackawanna League's top golfers. The Jackman is the most prestigious individual event they play for, and seeing Sebastianelli essentially lapping the field will be a memory they will all have for the rest of the year.
More importantly, it gives the Comets senior a reason to feel good about his chances at the league's qualifier for the District 2 championship as well as the district event itself.
"Being able to win the Jackman can be a springboard into districts," Sebastianelli said. "I know I can play well, and I am very comfortable at Elmhurst (Country Club, site of the district event). It fits my eye."
Being comfortable on the course often is a precursor for shooting low rounds. There is that extra security of having tasted success in an important event where the pressure is high, and being able to believe in oneself is a crucial mindset for any golfer.
Sebastianelli takes that confidence to a higher level.
"It's a nice thing to have," Sebastianelli said. "When you second-guess a shot, you don't fully commit to your shot. If you don't commit to your shot, you hit bad shots."
Bad shots lead to more shots, and that leads to higher scores, a vicious cycle that many golfers fall into and can't extricate themselves in time to save a round.
Sebastianelli delivered his 67 despite struggling on the first five holes at the Scranton Municipal Golf Course before he reeled off his birdie binge that secured the Jackman for himself.
The round left him with the belief he was in solid control of all aspects of his game. The senior has been enjoying that rare feeling ever since.
"My iron play has been improving," Sebastianelli said. "I'm hitting it the way I want to hit the ball, and I know where I'm hitting it."
While the senior was happy to claim the individual title at the Jackman, he was even happier to have led the Comets to the team title by four shots over rival Scranton Prep with an 8-over-par 296 for its low four players that day. That team crown meant a lot to him, perhaps even more than his individual honor that day.
"It was really important. It gave the team some confidence," Sebastianelli said. "It's nice to win, but it's nice to let them (his teammates) know that we can beat Scranton Prep, and every other team in the league."
For now, Sebastianelli is soaring for the Comets, and is eager to help his team chase down league and district team titles before he even worries about winning the individual title at districts, qualifying for regionals or making it as far as the state championships.
At the very least, he will be able to savor the memory of an outstanding round of golf in August that showed him just how well he can play.