GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Blue Heron Pines Golf Club has become somewhat of a second home course for Middle Township High School's David Hicks and Ocean City's Dom DiGiacomo.
Hicks and DiGiacomo each carded a 3-over-par 75 on Wednesday to finish in a group of five players tied for second place at the 10th annual Garden State Cup.
DiGiacomo officially finished third and Hicks fifth with ties broken on a match of cards.
It was the second top-10 finish for each golfer in the prestigious invitational tournament.
Absegami's Chris Filling and Middle Township's Kevin O'Donnell each shot a 76 to finish seventh and ninth, respectively.
"I like the set-up of the course," Hicks said. "It gives you chances if you hit it well."
Hicks took advantage of those chances.
He started on the first hole and birdied the ninth and 18th.
The birdie on 18 turned out to be the difference between finishing tied for second and being tied for seventh for the Middle Township sophomore and first-team Press All-Star.
"No matter what, it's good to end on a solid hole, so I was happy about that," Hicks said. "It brings the score down a little and makes up for some stuff on the back nine. It was a good way to end."
Hicks finished tied for fifth last season (seventh on match of cards) with a 74.
"I was really happy with my ball striking," Hicks said. "I wasn't scrambling too much. I see where there's room for a little bit of improvement with the putter. But I'm happy with the round."
Bergen Catholic won the team title in a playoff against Peddie. It was the fourth straight title for Bergen Catholic at the 21-team, 105-player tournament. Peddie's Kyle Sterbinsky shot a 74 to win the individual title by one stroke.
Mainland Regional (334) finished tops among area teams, placing seventh. Ab-segami (340) finished ninth.
St. Augustine Prep (343), Vineland (350), Middle Township (354), Ocean City (366) and Wildwood Catholic (379) were also in the field.
DiGiacomo overcame a slow start with two birdies on the front nine.
"I'm pretty happy," DiGiacomo said. "I played a solid round. I missed some shots, but you always learn from your mistakes in every round you play."
DiGiacomo finished just outside of the top 10 last season with a 79. He finished third as a freshman in 2011 with a 75.
DiGiacomo joked that his round Wednesday was a little out of the ordinary. He was 4-over-par on par 3s but an impressive 1-under on par 4s.
"I was like, 'Wow,' " he said. "That makes no sense."
DiGiacomo knows he can expect to face a talented field similar to Wednesday's if he is able to reach the Tournament of Champions.
"This gives me some confidence to maybe place well in other tournaments," DiGiacomo said. "You don't understand how good they are until you actually get out there and play with the best players in the state."
Hicks, DiGiacomo, Filling and O'Donnell were the only area players to break 80. St. Augustine Prep's Mark Benevento shot an 81, Mainland's Colin Roche and Jay Feldman 82s, Vineland's Eric Dargis and Absegami's Christian Foti 83s and Mainland's John Petronis an 84.
Contact John O'Kane:
Individual top 10 (ties settled on match of cards): 1. Kyle Sterbinsky, Peddie, 74; 2. Stefan Cygan, Peddie, 75; 3. Dom DiGiacomo, Ocean City 75; 4. Will Voetsch, Delbarton 75; 5. David Hicks, Middle Township, 75; 6. Justin Murray, Burlington Township, 75; 7. Chris Filling, Absegami, 76; 8. Ryan Rose, Bergen Catholic, 76; 9. Kevin O'Donnell, Middle Township, 76; 10. Dawson Jones, Howell, 77.
Team scoring: 1. Bergen Catholic, 310 (won in a playoff); 2. Peddie, 310; 3. Delbarton, 316; 4. Don Bosco Prep, 329; 5. Moorestown, 330; 6. Cherokee, 333; 7. Mainland Regional, 334; 8. Burlington Township, 337; 9. Absegami, 340; 10. Tenafly, 342.
Locals (top four individuals' scores)
Mainland Regional (334): Colin Roche 39 43-82, Jay Feldman 40 42-82, John Petronis 43 41-84, Anthony Godleski 43 43-86.
Absegami (340): Chris Filling 38 38-76, Christian Foti 41 42-83, Sean Hotlen 46 44-90, Tom Delany 47 44-91.
St. Augustine Prep (343): Mark Benevento 40 41-81, Mike Toner 42 43-85; Cody Dazen 43 45-88, Luke Silwowski 42 47-89.
Vineland (350): Eric Dargis 36-47-83, Ricky Acosta 45 43-88, Cody Freese 44 44-88, Jeff Rowan 42 49-91.
Middle Township (354): David Hicks 37 38-75, Kevin O'Donnell 35 41-76, John Longstreet 45 41-86, Kam Watkins 54 63-117.
Ocean City (366): Dom DiGiacomo 37 38-75, Jack Handshaw 46 44-90, Shayna Zoller 44 51-95, Mike Kimball 53 53-106.
Wildwood Catholic (379): Blake Vogdes 44 45-89, Jake Ferry 46 49-95, Sean Longhram 47 48-95, Pat Vogdes 44 55-100.