van Niekerk ended up 2nd in Finger Lakes Championship for Section 5 Qualifier

Penn Yan, N.Y. — Golfers at the Finger Lakes League Championship played through rain, gusting winds and cold temperatures at Lakeside Country Club on Wednesday. To most golfers those were less than ideal conditions. But to Wayne Central’s Josh Greenly, it was a good time.

“I love playing in that weather,” the junior said. “I always loved links golf and stuff like that. Playing in that stuff is just another challenge and I feel like it helps out ball strikers. It was kind of fun to hit balls into the wind.”

Greenly hit a four-over par 72 to win the league championship, which also serves as the Section 5 qualifier.

The Eagle was in the second group of golfers, but he kept a close eye on the first group knowing Harley-Allendale Columbia’s Matt van Niekerk and Honeoye’s Ben Cratsley would be some of the top competition.

“I knew everybody is going to make bogeys, especially with today’s weather, maybe it will be my time,” Greenly said.

Teeing off on the 10th hole, Greenly shot a 39 on the back nine and a 37 on the front. His only birdie came on seven, where he chipped the ball in from just off the green.

Van Niekerk ended up in a tie for second place with Geneva’s Chris Salone. They both finished at 78. The H-AC senior started off slow with a 42 on the back nine, but scored three birdies after the turn.

“The conditions were a bit rough, but I feel really good about my game knowing I had a couple doubles and a couple three putts,” van Niekerk said. “Seventy-eight is just a number, I was just looking to qualify. I feel really confident, I’m just happy I qualified.”

Cratsley finished fourth with a 79. The senior had two birdies on the afternoon.

The top nine golfers qualified for individual sectionals in the spring. Joining Greenly, Salone, van Niekerk and Cratsley were Waterloo’s Tim Brown (83), Honeoye’s Kyle Stone (84), Geneva’s Mike Long (84), Romulus/South Seneca’s Harry Hyde (85) and Midlakes’ Jake Blondell (86), who won a playoff hole against Geneva’s Mark Pitifer.

Cratsley was named the Finger Lakes West’s Player of the Year. His top six scores going into Wednesday had him 11-under. Cratsley was co-Player of the Year with van Niekerk in 2011.

“I played well this season, I shot a 31 and 32 in back-to-back days, so I was happy with the way I played,” he said.

Honeoye went 12-0 and 10-0 in league matches to win its eighth-straight Finger Lakes West title and Geneva went 10-1-1 to win the East. Greenly was the East Player of the Year. The titles mean the Bulldogs and Panthers qualify for team sectionals. Wayne, Midlakes and H-AC will play in a playoff next week to determine the third Finger Lakes team to advance to sectionals.

Salone, Blondell, Pitifer, Midlakes’ Brandon Forjone and Penn Yan’s Tyler Bailey were named first team Finger Lakes East all-stars. Van Niekerk, Stone, Hyde, Naples’ Andrew Fleischman, Mynderse’s Brian Johnson, Red Jacket’s Alex Folts and H-AC’s Will Hampson were named first team West all-stars.