By Josh Thomson
In terms of high school golf, the change was subtle, almost imperceptible. Theo Humphrey was outstanding as a senior, but the Rye Country Day star was pretty great as a freshman, too.
Yet between spring seasons, the three-time Fairchester league champ underwent a transformation. And his efforts to rework his swing under one of the country’s top instructors has this year’s Journal News Westchester/Putnam boys golfer of the year feeling more confident than ever.
“In the past under pressure, I’d be a little worried about hitting that wild shot that could hurt me,” said Humphrey, a Greenwich resident. “Not anymore.”
Even with his original swing, Humphrey made a major impact on the Wildcats. He won the league title his first three years and only missed defending it as a senior because of a conflict with an AP exam.
Humphrey’s consistent results rarely wavered. He lost just two individual matches in his four years. His scoring average was under par in each of them, including a sterling 34.1 as a senior that included a 29. He then finished with a 69 at Hampshire Country Club to win the NYSAIS state championship.
“This kid just loves to play golf and loves to get better,” Rye Country Day coach Joe Isola said. “His golf IQ is just ridiculous for his age.”
Humphrey credits his nearly three years of tutelage under Todd Anderson, the director of instruction at Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia. They began working together in October 2011 and Anderson — who works with PGA star Brandt Snedeker — has tightened all aspects of Humphrey’s swing during a handful of sessions each year.
“He’s just helped me so much,” Humphrey said. “It’s really a privilege to work with such a talented guy. He’s made me so much more aware about the golf swing.”
Humphrey qualified for both the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Junior Amateur last summer, has won three prestigious AJGA events and was the 21st-ranked amateur in the most recent Polo Golf Rankings.
Humphrey will attend Vanderbilt — coincidentally, Snedeker’s alma mater — and believes the steps he’s taken to improve have paid dividends.
“I hit a lot of great shots beforehand, but I didn’t have the consistency,” Humphrey said. “I have a more fundamentally sound swing now, and that’s made me a better player.”
Other members of The Journal News Westchester/Putnam all-star first team:
Christian Cavaliere, Somers: The No. 2 qualifier for sectionals (0.49) was steady as a sophomore, earning a return trip to states. He tied Josh Goldenberg for third at the Section 1 tournament and then finished 12th at Cornell.
Josh Goldenberg, Scarsdale: The junior played his best golf late in the season, posting Section 1’s top finishes at both the state and Federation tournaments. He won the latter event at Bethpage in a playoff shortly after a final-round 70 landed him in solo third at states.
Brent Ito, Ardsley: The sophomore led Section 1 in scoring differential (0.45). He also won the section’s individual championship by two shots thanks to a clutch putter, highlighted by his long birdie putt on the 17th hole in the final round. Ito went on to place 11th during his second straight trip to states.
James Nicholas, Scarsdale: The Section 1 tournament runner-up was Ito’s main challenger throughout the final round and even held the lead at times. The three-sport star also posted the third-lowest scoring differential (1.16) and qualified for states.
Eric Terminello, Stepinac: The senior finished had the third-best scoring differential in the CHSAA (1.36) and was named league MVP. He also led the Crusaders to an upset of league champ Iona Prep and will attend the Naval Academy.
Coach of the year
Andy Verboys, Scarsdale: The Raiders dominated the competition all season, a trend that became evident when it mattered most. Verboys’ deep squad sent three players (James Nicholas, Josh Goldenberg and Anthony Scarcella) to states and won the Section 1 team championship by a whopping 26 shots. They posted the top four individual finishers in a four-team field.
Matt Bettino, So., Bronxville
Bear Carlson, Jr., John Jay
Robert Diforio, Jr., Iona Prep
Anthony Scarcella, Sr., Scarsdale
Justin Stagg, Jr., Harrison
Evan Weisberg, Sr., Hackley
Kevin Allyn, Jr., Iona Prep; Nils Carlson, Fr., John Jay; Connor Daly, So., Bronxville; Nick Delfico, Jr., Fox Lane; Jonny Emmerman, So., Scarsdale; Chris Gay, So., Bronxville; Martin Jensen, Jr., Bronxville; Wyatt Khosrowshahi, Fr., Rye Country Day; Jack Maresca, Jr., Rye; Aidan McDermott, So., Pleasantville; Matthew Minerva, 7th, Valhalla; Sebastian Naibaho, So., Iona Prep; Taikan Nakada, So., White Plains; Jordan Sanyshyn, Fr., Brewster; Nikhil Sodhi, Sr., Scarsdale; Paul Terminello, So., Stepinac; Sol Thompson, Fr., Scarsdale; Brendan Trainor, Sr., White Plains; Daniel Tricarico, Sr., Rye Country Day; Jake Trotta, Jr., Iona Prep.