By Mike Dougherty
PURCHASE – While the rest of the field was futilely attempting to string birdies together and make a late run up the leaderboard, a calm-on-the-outside Derrick Kim was sitting inside the grill room enjoying a healthy dose of ice cream.
It was a worthwhile pause for the former Clarkstown North standout.
Kim was the first player on the tee in the morning and the first player back on the course after lunch. The 20-year-old junior at Seton Hall University rolled in par after par after par and put a number on the board nobody else in the field was able to match Tuesday, capturing the Brae Burn Invitational with an even-par total of 144.
“I didn’t really expect that I was going to win today, to be honest,” said Kim, who now resides in Palisades Park, N.J. “People were telling me I was leading, but I was just trying to play my best. I got a little nervous on 17 and 18, but made par, par.”
There was an emotional fist pump from Kim when the last putt, a 10-footer up the hill, dropped.
“I said it to the person I was playing with, Jesse (Clemente), ‘I hope this is my last putt today,’ ” he said. “I made it, so I was really happy.”
Cameron Young, the defending champion, battled a shoulder injury the entire day and came in second with a 147. The 16-year-old Scarborough resident couldn’t hit anything longer than a 5-wood, and still managed to close with an even-par 72.
“I hurt my back right before the U.S. Open (local) qualifier,” said Young, who came in second on Sunday at the New York State Federation Championship at Bethpage Black. “The back got better, but I probably strained my shoulder overcompensating.
“My 5-wood hurt less than my 3-wood or driver, so that’s all I hit today. There was more than one par 4 where I couldn’t reach in two. I was able to get up and down at 17 for par both times after not getting there.”
A recent doctor’s visit came with a prescription for rest.
Young is defending two more invitational titles in the coming weeks. He is planning on shutting down until next Wednesday, and hoping the shoulder will rebound in time for the Hochster at Quaker Ridge. The schedule will allow for more time off prior to the Mittelmark at Fenway on June 26.
“It’s weird if I go more than a day without playing,” he said.
Allan Small, a Fairmont (N.J.) member and past MGA president, defended his senior title and placed third overall at 4-over. Luke Feehan, a recent Boston College graduate who played at Mahopac High, was fourth at 149.
While many in the field were done in on Brae Burn’s greens, Kim, who captured the Section 1 title in 2010, only had one three-putt.
“In the afternoon the greens were really fast, (the course) definitely played tough,” he said. “I was lucky that I hit my irons well. I wasn’t hitting it great, but I was hitting everything pretty much like pin high. … I was making pars and pars and keeping steady. It was great day.”