For the most part, golf is such an individual sport. But there are occasions -- such as the Ryder Cup -- when the sport's team aspect takes center stage, and a teammate's effort can mean the difference between an unbridled sense of elation and abject dejection.
Central Catholic's golf team experienced the former emotions with solid efforts to win both the WPIAL and PIAA 3A team championships.
Played at York's Heritage Hills Resort, the Vikings took open the PIAA 3A championship with a team score of 297 that was nine strokes ahead of runner-up Nazareth, the District 11 champion.
Sophomore Jimmy Meyers gave the Vikings the shot in the arm they needed. Playing in the No. 5 slot, Meyers shot a 1-over-par round of 72 that was just two strokes off the top score of 70 registered by Central York junior Joe Parrini.
Five players competed for the Vikings, but only the top four scores counted, and three of Meyers' scoring teammates all shot rounds of 77 or better. Senior Matt Del Rosso and sophomore Neal Shipley both shot 74s, and another senior, Jake Smithco, fired a 77.
Central Catholic coach Corey O'Connor marveled at his team's effort.
"It's a credit to the kids and how amazing they are," he said. "They showed down that, down the stretch, they were mentally ready to finish the job."
O'Connor believed the regular season had much to do with the Vikings' approach at the state final.
"It's a credit to the WPIAL and our section that we played so many tough matches and tight matches all year," he said. "Nothing really fazes us."
O'Connor was so elated with his team's performance in the state final that he dived fully clothed into the lake near the 18th green after the results were announced. He said the victory was a team effort, and not just because of the effort of his players.
"We brought up a couple of our better kids from the junior varsity to walk with all five groups from Central," he said. "We had them keep track of everybody in every group. We generally knew what was going in our groups, but the biggest issue was following the kids who were playing in groups without our kids."
All of those good feelings at the state tournament, though, would have been impossible had the Vikings not won the WPIAL team championship. Winning that title became somewhat of a concern after the Vikings fell to Fox Chapel by a score of 396 to 410 at the WPIAL 3A team semifinal at River Forest Country Club in Freeport. Seneca Valley also advanced from that qualifier with a score of 415. They joined perennial favorite Peters Township, Moon and Upper St. Clair. Those three teams all had better qualifying scores than Fox Chapel with Peters Township registering 366 strokes, Moon with 378 and Upper St. Clair with 382.
O'Connor knew his team would be in for a fight, but he had no idea how close it would actually be. In an extremely tight finish, Central won the WPIAL 3A team title on Cedarbrook Golf Club's Gold Course with 378 strokes. Section rival Fox Chapel was second with 379,and Peters Township was third with 380.
"I think I lost my heart on about the 14th hole," O'Connor said afterward. "My best friend is the assistant coach, and he handles all the math. He tell me what I need."
At the WPIAL tournament, Del Rosso and Shipley shot 1-over-par rounds of 73. Meyers and Smithco were right behind them with 74s. Fox Chapel's Alex Lawson shot a 72 for his team's best round.
Fox Chapel coach Bryan Deal might well have had the best line of the day at the WPIAL tournament.
"I think we should have our banquet together," he said of his team and Central's. "We've seen each other enough because this is the sixth time we've competed against Central."
Peters Township's J.W. Cunningham had a solid effort for the Indians with a 1-under 71. Hunter Bruce, the 2015 WPIAL champion, had a 73.
Latrobe sophomore carving out solid career: With two years of high school golf remaining, Latrobe's Brady Pevarnik has plenty of chances to build upon what has already become a solid career.
After finishing 12th in the WPIAL 3A Boys Individual Championship with a 6-over-par round of 71 at storied Oakmont Country Club, Pevarnik stormed to the PIAA 3A Western Regional Championship with a 2-under-par round of 70 to earn a trip to the PIAA 3A Individual Championship at York's Heritage Hills Resort.
Pevarnik saved his best performance for the sport's biggest stage as he finished in a third-place tie at the PIAA Individual Championship with an 8-over-par total of 150 for the two-day event, tying with Pope John Paul II's J.T. Spina.
Pevarnik had an opening round of 73, and he faded a bit with a 77 on the second day. He finished six strokes behind Nazareth Area senior Kevin Scherr, and one stroke behind runner-up Campbell Wolf of Cumberland Valley.
One can't jump to conclusions about what will happen at the 2017 championships. However, both Scherr and Wolf will not be factors as both graduated earlier this year.
Franklin Regional's Jackson appears to have solid future: While Pevarnik has plenty to look forward to, he'll certainly find plenty of solid competition to keep him focused on his game.
One of those competitors is just down the road and has just as much time left in his high school career. That would be Palmer Jackson, the Franklin Regional sophomore who also shot a 6-over-par round of 77 at the WPIAL 3A Individual Championship, and finished in a fourth-place tie with Fox Chapel's Anthony Cordaro at the PIAA Western Regional. Each shot 2-over-par rounds of 74, and earned qualifying spots in the PIAA Championship at York's Heritage Hills Resort.
Jackson earned all-state honors by tying for ninth place with a 12-over-par total of 154 for the two-day tournament.
Jackson was a solid contender for individual honors with a 3-over-par round of 74 after the first round. Despite faltering a bit with a second-round total of 80, he still played well enough to finish in the top ten in the 36-player championship field.