On college links, McNulty comes into his own
At Boston College High, TJ McNulty was a member of three South title-winning golf squads, and one, in 2011, that placed second in the state.
When the Scituate resident graduated in 2012, after having served as a cocaptain and earning Catholic Conference all-star honors as a senior, however, he expected that his competitive golf career was likely over.
Milton’s Patrick O’Leary, playing now at Penn, and Norwell’s Noah Walker, who spent his freshman season at Loyola University in Chicago, were the big hitters for BC High.
With an eye on continuing his Jesuit education, McNulty landed at St. Joseph’s in Philadelphia, where he made the golf team, a Division 1 program, as a walk-on.
This season, as a sophomore, he earned all-conference honors in the Atlantic 10, the first St. Joe’s golfer tabbed since 2008.
“I honestly wasn’t very good in high school,” said McNulty, whose family has long belonged to Hatherly Country Club in Scituate. “By no means was I ever our top one or two guy. I was more like the third or fourth guy on those teams.”
St. Joseph’s golf coach Bob Lynch , however, decided to take a chance on McNulty after he saw him play a couple rounds in the fall of his freshman year.
“TJ came out on fire during his freshman year and it’s safe to say he was a bit of a surprise for us,” said Lynch. “He’s been pretty consistent for us since day one.”
At the Navy Fall Invitational, he was the Hawks’ second finisher. He has not missed a tournament since, and shared the team’s Most Outstanding Performer honors his freshman year.
This season, McNulty averaged a team-best 75 strokes over 33 rounds and registered four top 10 finishes. He tied for 26th at the Atlantic 10 championships after firing rounds of 73-83-77. He was named Atlantic-10 Golfer of the Week after tying for second at the Navy Spring Invitational with a 1-under 141, including a 4-under 67 in the first round.
“I just put a lot of work into my game the spring before my freshman year of college,” said McNulty, whose sister, Katie , graduated from Notre Dame Academy in 2010, where she was a member of an NDA program that has a rich history (nine consecutive state titles). “I started playing a lot better. I don’t hit the ball very far, so when I’m playing well I’m keeping the ball in front of me a lot. My iron play is one of my strengths. My putting is streaky, which explains the wide disparity in some of my scores this year.”
At 5-feet-10, 160 pounds, McNulty is not the strongest driver on the course. However, he now consistently drives the ball 275 to 280 yards (he was at 220 in high school).
“For being a smaller kid, he hits the ball pretty far,” said Lynch. “He’s very level-headed on the course. Rarely do I see him upset or down on himself. He keeps smiling, even after a bogey. He’s one of these kids who can make birdies in bunches, which is nice and also somewhat rare, and why he can shoot in the 67 or 68 range.”
This summer McNulty is eyeing several tournaments, including the US Amateur, the New England Amateur, and the Mass Am. The 47th annual Francis Ouimet Memorial Tournament is also on his radar.
“I just plan to keep working on my game for next season,” he said.
O’Leary, a sophomore at Penn, shot a 76 and tied for 21st overall (230) at the Ivy League Championships, finishing third among Penn players.
Here and there
■ Bridgewater’s Mike Muir was sidelined the entire 2013 season with a shoulder injury at Bentley University. Back on the field this spring, the junior center fielder was one of nine players in the country to earn a spot on the ABCA/Rawlings Division 2 Gold Glove team.
The 2011 graduate of Xaverian Brothers tracked down 124 balls in the outfield without making an error. He also had six assists. Muir is such a skilled center fielder that Bentley moved all-conference center fielder Sean Keady of Norwood to left field.
“Mike’s coming back from injury and doing what he did in center was an amazing achievement,” said longtime Bentley coach Bob DeFelice.
Muir also batted .286 with 23 runs scored, 15 RBIs, and seven stolen bases. He was Northeast-10 Conference Player of the Week after batting .588 (10 for 17) during a torrid midseason stretch.
Keady led the Falcons with a .321 average and a team-high 53 hits. He also excelled in the field, making just two errors on 84 chances for a fielding percentage of .978.
■ Hull’s Mark Mainini was one of the most improved batters in the Framingham State lineup this season. After batting .256 a year ago, the junior started all 39 games for the Rams, hitting .323. He tied for the team lead in hits (42), home runs (four), and RBIs (25). The shortstop had two hits and three RBIs to lead the Rams to an 8-5 win over Bridgewater State in the first round of the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference tourney.
■ The GPS Massachusetts Crusaders Elite U14 boys’ soccer team captured the state title June 1 with a thrilling 2-1 overtime win over Scorpions SC Boston at the Mass Youth Soccer complex in Lancaster. Andrew Stevens , a cocaptain from Marshfield, set up the tying goal, with Somerset’s Max Horowitz finishing off the former’s free kick. Chukwudi Onyejose netted the winner in OT. Stevens was named tourney MVP. Onyejose also scored a pair of goals in a 2-1 semifinal win over CSU of Plymouth. The Crusaders will represent the state in the US Region 1 championship tournament at the University of Rhode Island at the end of the month. Zach Miller (Norton), Leon Djusberg (Abington), Henry Kimber White (Norton), Brandin Osborne (North Easton), Andy Stark (Weymouth), Aidan DaSilva (Westport), and Cameron Pattison (Cohasset) are also on the team.
■ Registration is open for the third annual Nantasket Beach Run, a 4-mile jaunt on Nantasket Beach scheduled for Aug. 12. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. Registration is at the Jeanette Murray Bathhouse. Proceeds benefit Hull Boosters, which funds Hull High School sports and extracurricular activities. For more information, call 617-851-4569 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.John R. Johnson can be reached at email@example.com.