Corey Giannuzzi is not the sort to wear her emotions on her sleeve. Giannuzzi, a senior on the Riverhead girls golf team, has a knack for taking things in stride, keeping an even keel. That’s an invaluable quality for a golfer. It also makes her tough to read sometimes.
“I can’t tell after the end of a round whether she had a good round or a bad round,” said Riverhead coach Steve Failla.
But the smile on Giannuzzi’s face following the final round of the Section XI Championship on May 23 said it all.
“I could tell you she was really happy,” Failla said. “After the county championship, she was smiling for me to see teeth.”
And why not? The occasion was worthy of a smile. Giannuzzi is a trailblazer of sorts for Riverhead golf. She became the first player in the team’s six-year varsity history to qualify for the final round of the Section XI Championship.
Riverhead had been represented in the Suffolk County tournament before. Kaylee Wells, a junior, played in the first round the last couple of years, but never made it to the final round. Giannuzzi herself reached the first round of the tournament when she was an eighth-grader, but “that was just a disaster,” she said.
Considering that only 96 of the county’s 500 or so golfers qualify for the tournament, and only 30 of those make the cut for the second day of the two-day competition, it’s a considerable achievement.
Giannuzzi shot an 89 in the first round of 18 holes and a 100 in the second round. She finished 20th overall.
“I think that’s outstanding,” Failla said. “I think it’s a testament to setting a goal for yourself and working hard every day and staying focused on it.”
What was Giannuzzi’s take on it?
“I guess it was kind of cool,” she said. “I think it felt different this year because I actually had a chance of moving on to the next round.”
Giannuzzi’s temperament undoubtedly helps her. She said it doesn’t matter much to her if she takes a bad shot; she just shakes it off and moves on to the next shot.
“I’ve watched her evolve over the years,” Failla said. “She’s calm, cool and collected. She doesn’t get upset. She has faith that the next shot will make up for it. She’s got the mentality for golf that we should all have. She doesn’t get too low with the lows.”
Giannuzzi joined the team when she was in seventh grade, the same year that the varsity team started. She didn’t play one year as a freshman. Giannuzzi is one of the team’s four seniors. Catherine Brophy, Carina Oliva and Rebecca Merker are the others.
Riverhead has also been aided by the play of a first-year player, junior Olivia Serpico, and an eighth-grader, Aby Brophy, who is Catherine’s sister.
Riverhead finished with a 3-9 record, a team record for wins in a season. Failla said each match the Blue Waves played was decided by less than 10 strokes.
“We were competitive every day,” he said. “Every match we were right in it.”
Because Riverhead doesn’t have a junior varsity team or a middle school team, Failla said he is looking for middle school players for next season who are interested in playing a varsity sport.