LO HUD. ROCKLAND/WESTCHESTER -- After a big growth spurt and an offseason of training, Matt Ferrari entered his junior season dreaming bigger. He set a goal of winning the Section 1 title and thought he could, but the Croton-Harmon golfer first needed to gauge how much he'd benefit from the physical transformation.
Ferrari found the answer during an opening-round 71 at Waccabuc Country Club. Compared to his past experiences there, success came without much sweat.
"The courses seemed easier than in the past couple years," he said. "I was hitting wedges, 9 irons, 8 irons into a lot of the greens."
From that point on, Ferrari established himself as the section's top player. He won the Section 1 title he coveted with a closing birdie and followed with a runner-up finish at the NYSPHSAA boys golf championships.
For Ferrari, our Westchester/Putnam player of the year, the physical improvements gave him a new level of confidence.
"For me, I feel like it's all mental," said Ferrari, a three-time state-tournament qualifier. "Once I get out there and start making a few pars I feel like I get into the zone. I block out everything and try to focus on making birdies and whatever else I'm trying to accomplish that day."
Ferrari accomplished plenty during his postseason to remember. After his dramatic — at least in hindsight — win at sectionals, he fired an opening-round 70 at states to earn the lead. Although he ended up two strokes behind state champion Adam Xiao of Manhasset, Ferrari accomplished many of his goals.
He will now set them even higher, a process that has already begun. Ferrari will compete in three AJGA events this summer and will attempt to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur. He will also compete in the International Junior Masters at East Aurora Country Club this month and the Liberty National Junior in Jersey City in August.
He keep an eye on the more distant future, too.
"I really want to win a couple of AJGA events because I haven't really done well in them the last couple years," Ferrari said. "That's my biggest goal right now, but next year I want to be a state champion."
Ferrari said he came as close as he did thanks to a five-inch growth spurt. He combined that with golf-specific workouts that increased his clubhead speed by 10 mph and allowed him to hit the ball 25-30 yards further.
"I never used to get that feeling of getting into the zone," Ferrari said. "It was hard for me to settle into the round, but now it's easy for me. I think it's just part of maturing."
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