South in need of their ‘A’ game

Schutzer’s putt gives Pirates win over PHS

By: Bob Nuse
   It’s not often a team shoots a 188 in high school golf and losses.
   But it’s not often two teams the quality of West Windsor-Plainsboro South and Princeton get together on the course either.
   Led by a 35 from Peter Teifer and a 36 from Will Madden, Princeton shot a 188 last Thursday at Mercer Oaks West. But it wasn’t good enough to win as the Pirates put four players under 40 on their way to a 187-188 win.
   "The kids played well and I was happy for them," said WW-P South coach Russell Wray, whose team then improved to 5-0 on Friday with a 210-273 win over Ewing. "On the last hole we knew we were tied and Brad Schutzer needed to two-putt for us to win. He was a little long and ran it past the cup by about four feet, but he came back and made the one he needed to for us to win."
   In a matchup between the two top teams in the Colonial Valley Conference, the Pirates got the best of a Little Tiger team that has beaten them at the Cherry Valley Invitational earlier this season. It was a classic match, with South needing to put up a season-best score to win by one stroke.
   "We talked about that at the end," Wray said. "I can’t remember if it has ever happened that two teams in the CVC have shot that low where both teams were in the 180s in the same match. Last year we lost to them on their course, but then we came back and beat them at the county tournament. It’s been very close the last few years. This year they beat us at Cherry Valley and we came back and beat them in the match at our course."
   Schutzer, who finished with a 38, knew the match was riding on his final hole. And even though it was a lot of pressure, he came through when it counted.
   "It was amazing," said Schutzer, who also shot a 38 in the win over Ewing on Friday. "We went into the last hole up by three as a team and I was losing by three. Anthony Aloi told me that we were up by three and I realized I was down by three. So I had to make up a shot for us to win. We both has similar putts and when he missed his second putt, I knew I had to make mine for us to win.
   "At the time I did not like it that I knew the match was riding on me. But now that’s it is over I’m glad I knew because I would not have wanted to leave a putt like that short."
   Through the first three weeks of the season, Princeton and WW-P South have clearly set themselves at the top of the CVC. Both teams are deep and talented. That much was certainly evident as the two teams faced each other last week.
   In fact, the Pirates have shown in the early part of the season they have enough depth that some of their toughest competition could come from within.
   "We had a match with (WW-P) North and we decided to have a JV match with the ‘B’ kids," Wray said. "We had eight kids shoot 40 or better that day. It’s amazing to have eight out of 12 players shoot that low.
   "We have a couple of seniors who didn’t play that much last year who are doing real well. Abishak Saksena shot par in the match against Princeton and he wasn’t even in our top six last year."
   Schutzer was in and out of the top six for the Pirates a year ago. But this year he’s firmly established himself as a key player behind the team’s No. 1, Anthony Aloi, who shot a 35 against Princeton.
   "Last year I played well at the beginning and then poorly," Schutzer said. "This year I feel like I have played better as the year has gone on. This last week I shot some low numbers and my confidence level is up and I feel like I have been more consistent. My range of scores is lower this year. I am pretty much between 37 or 38 and 42. My scores are down a lot from last year.
   "I would have a couple of bad holes and that would ruin my round."
   Even though the Pirates suffered some tough graduation losses from the team that went 14-2 last year, Schutzer was confident this could be another big season.
   "We lost a couple of real good seniors with Mike March and Ryan Phelan," the South senior said. "But this year we’ve had some seniors step up and a couple of our juniors have come on and played real well."
   Well enough that on any given day, eight players could shoot 40 or better.
   "That is what our team can do, which is amazing," said Schutzer, who plans to attend James Madison University, where he may try to make the golf team as a walk-on. "This year we’d like to break the school record, which isn’t that far off from 187."
   And Schutzer hopes his play continues to improve enough that he’ll be a key player if that happens.
   "Right now my putting is a little off," he said. "But at this point in the season it is tough to do a lot about that because the greens are being aerated, so it’s hard to get your putting down."
   When it mattered most last week, Schutzer got a key putt to go down. And with it he helped the Pirates earn a real nice win.