Smith Academy’s Daniel Cavanaugh qualifies for state D3 golf tournament

  • Daniel Cavanaugh, of Smith Academy, watches his drive on the second hole at the Country Club of Greenfield earlier this season. Cavanaugh finished fifth at the Western Massachusetts Division 3 golf championship on Monday and qualified for the state tournament. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 10/21/2019 6:54:41 PM

Smith Academy senior Daniel Cavanaugh has been among the last cuts for the Division 3 state golf tournament for the past three years.

On Monday, he carded an 80 at the Western Massachusetts Division 3 championships at Agawam Municipal Golf Course and was the tournament’s early individual leader. Then came the waiting.

“I was nervous. The two kids in (the pairing) in front of me were very good golfers. I was battling with another kid (Mount Everett’s Cooper Rothvoss) the whole round,” Cavanaugh said. “It only takes one kid from another pairing playing better than you.”

The top five individuals qualify for the state championship. Cavanaugh has played on the Falcons’ varsity squad since he was a seventh grader and never reached the state tournament.

Until Monday.

His 8-over 80 placed him fifth and advanced him to the state tournament Oct. 28 at Cranberry Valley Golf Course in Harwich.

“It was pretty cool, my four years of hard work paid off,” Cavanaugh said. “It’s been my goal the whole season.”

Ware’s John Soltys – playing in the group in front of Cavanaugh – won the sectional individual title with a 1-over 73. Ware also captured the team title with a 330. Lenox was second and qualified for the state tournament with a 337.

Cavanaugh started strong. He played the first eight holes in 1 over before five straight bogeys put qualifying for states in jeopardy.

“I knew I had to step it up or I was going home,” Cavanaugh said.

He also lost three balls in the leaves and had to take another tee shot, which put him in a dangerous position. Cavanaugh recovered well enough from those mistakes to stay in contention.

“(Players in that position) could pack it in. In the past it was how he was. He’s gotten mentally tougher,” Smith Academy coach Matt Zerneri said. “To be able to rebound, and he was able to not let those holes hurt him. I think he didn’t take a double bogey on any of those holes.”

On the 17th hole, he lost his second shot and had to hit from the tee again. Cavanaugh couldn’t see the green 200 yards away but knew where it was, and he bent the shot around the trees and landed it 10 feet away from the hole, he said.

“To come back and not make it a dramatic part of his round shows how far he’s come over the last two years being on the cusp of qualifying and having some bad breaks today,” Zerneri said.

Despite a poor round, by his standards, at Western Mass., Cavanaugh knows the level he can play at the state tournament.

“I know I have a shot,” he said. “Last time I’m ever going to be playing for Smith, so I’m gonna go out with a bang.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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