The Johnston golf team played well enough during the regular season to earn itself a spot in the West Division’s three-team playoff, with the winner locking up a spot in the upcoming state tournament.
The playoff was held on Monday at Triggs Memorial Golf Course, and the Panthers played about to their season average. Unfortunately for them, so did their opponents – North Providence and Tolman – and that meant a third-place finish for Johnston and no spot at states.
The Panthers shot a 198, just four strokes worse than its season-best of 194. Tolman fired a 190, while North Providence shot a 188 to win. Those scores were right in line with the regular season results, as North Providence was third in the division at 9-5, while Tolman was fourth at 8-6 and Johnston was fifth at 7-7.
Sophomore John Gesualdi led the way with a 44, while freshman Jonathan Alsfeld and junior Joe Zonfrilli came in with matching 50’s. Junior Ken Calabro and senior Josh Oliveira fired 54’s.
“We’re usually in the 190’s,” Johnston head coach Jason Corsini said. “The 188 by North Providence was a good score. For us to break 190 would have been a tall order for the age of my team. It looks promising for the future.”
The Panthers have only one senior on the team – Oliveira – and he was a nice surprise in his first year playing golf for the school.
“Smart kid,” Corsini said. “Hate to lose him. He finally comes out for the golf team as a senior and he’s in my top 4. It’s too bad I can’t keep him.”
La Salle won the division with an unbeaten 14-0 mark during the regular season, while Moses Brown finished second at 12-2. Those two teams earned automatic bids to the state tournament.
Corsini, however, wasn’t disappointed with the way his team performed. It was right in the hunt, and there is plenty of reason to expect that it will improve going forward.
“They’re young, and they’re learning not to blow up when they have a bad hole,” Corsini said. “That’s my biggest obstacle at this point.”
That said, this year isn’t over just yet. Gesualdi, Johnston’s No. 1 player, qualified for the state tournament as an individual. The tournament is set to begin on Tuesday at Cranston Country Club.
Gesualdi qualified based on his individual scores throughout the season. As a freshman last year, Gesualdi shot 82 at states and missed out on the cut by just a single stroke.
Needless to say, after several strong performances so far this season – including a two-over par 38 at Agawam Hunt two weeks ago – hopes are higher this year.
“Looking forward to Tuesday,” Corsini said. “Hopefully the weather cooperates. He’s ready for it. He’s got a great swing, and a great head for it. At his age as a sophomore, he can calm himself on the course and not let anything on the outside distract him. That’s something that’s difficult to teach.”
The cut usually sits at around nine or 10-over par, and Corsini is practicing with Gesualdi all this week to help get him ready to post that type of score.
There are a few keys to getting there this year, and it all starts with understanding how to deal with Cranston’s slick greens.
“As far as putting the greens, they’re very fast,” Corsini said. “Sometimes, if you’re not cautious, you’ll have a six-foot putt for par. You want to keep the speed of the putts, most importantly, accurate.”
Last year, on the 18th hole, Gesualdi had a putt to shoot 81 and make the cut but he just barely missed it.
Corsini knows that his standout sophomore has the ability to get over the hump this time around.
“I’m excited,” Corsini said. “I think he has a very good chance.”
The tee times for the state tournament have not yet been announced.