Talented golfers seek to prove it on the course

Vikings need to come through in big matches.

By: Redd E. Patrick
   In 17 years as head golf coach at South Brunswick High School, Mark Kraft has never had a more talented team than the one he has right now.
   "I also feel we have the most talent out of any team in the county this year," said Kraft. "But for us, it’s a matter of showing it in the big matches."
   So far, the reviews have been mixed in that department.
   Opening up the season with an impressive score of 193 at the friendly confines of Bunker Hill, the Vikings cruised past a struggling Middlesex squad. But two days later, big bad St. Joseph came into town. Regarded as one of the top teams in the state, St. Joseph’s won 196-200.
   "We had a chance to win, but we believed St. Joseph’s could beat us and they did," said Kraft. "We have more talent than St. Joe’s. Our 193 score just before that match would have won, so now it’s a matter of us playing better in big matches."
   One day after St. Joseph’s, the Vikings hosted Metuchen, a program that has struggled over the past decade. The result was a course record 185. Tom Poorten and Tony McCracken each shot a one-under-par 35 to lead the Vikings to victory.
   "Less than 24 hours after losing to St. Joseph, we shoot a course record and have two kids go under par in a match for the first time ever," said Kraft. "Why? There was no pressure."
   In its next match, South Brunswick traveled to the Tamarack Golf Course to take on perennial GMC power East Brunswick. Playing in their second "big match" of the season, the Vikings prevailed this time, 203-222, as Paul Kauders shot two-over-par 38.
   "We wanted to prove a point in that match," said Kraft. "Here’s a team we weren’t supposed to beat, but we wanted not only to show we’re a better team, but a better team decisively. We wanted to win by 15 strokes and we won by almost 20. Both teams struggled a little, but that was a big win for us."
   With wins over Piscataway and Franklin (in a tri-match) as well, the Vikings took a 5-1 record into the April 10 home match with Edison. South Brunswick will host Woodbridge on Friday, April 12.
   McCracken and Kauders have been pleasant surprises in leading the team in the early going. McCracken, who has shot as low as 35 and as high as 41, is averaging 2.5 strokes over par. Kauders, who has shot consistent rounds of 39, 39, 39 and 38, is at 3 over par. Chris Ardolina is averaging 4 over par, while Marvin Bebawi is at 5 over.
   "Chris has struggled a little with his consistency," said Kraft. "So if he can be more consistent and Marvin can maximize his talent, we will be very tough to beat.
   "Our situation is clear-cut. We have the talent to do some great things in the counties and states, so now we have to go out and prove it. We’ve scheduled a lot of more matches away to get us prepared for the big matches in May and June."