HAVERFORD — By the standards he had set the previous two falls, it was a disappointing senior campaign for The Haverford School's Cole Berman.
The two-time defending Inter-Ac League Tournament champion, Berman had a tough day trying to make it three straight, finishing in a tie for third with a 77 at one of his favorite courses, Merion Golf Club's historic East Course. Hoping to lead the Fords to a fourth straight Inter-Ac League title, Berman and Haverford School settled for second behind a strong showing by Malvern Prep.
Berman finished in a tie for sixth and helped the Fords grab one trophy when they edged Inter-Ac League rival Episcopal Academy by a shot to take the team title at the Pennsylvania Independent School Athletic Association Tournament at the Stonewall Golf Links North Course.
"It was a little disappointing," Berman said recently as he looked back on a season that was completed nearly seven months earlier. "We really wanted to win the Inter-Ac four years in a row, but give Malvern credit, they played great. But we won states (the PAISAA) and we won on Haverford School-EA Day — and you always want to win that day."
Still, Berman was the second best player during the Inter-Ac's six regular-season mini-tournaments, trailing only Malvern Prep's Michael Davis, the Aronimink Golf Club member who is a two-time U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier. Third individually and the best player on a second-place team in arguably the most talented scholastic league for golf in Pennsylvania is pretty strong.
So while it might not have been as good as his junior season, Berman's senior season was good enough to earn him a repeat selection as 2013-14 Daily Times Player of the Year. He is joined on the All-Delco team by Marple Newtown senior Sam Soeth, Springfield senior Brian Todaro, Radnor sophomore Brynn Walker and Bonner-Prendergast junior Quinn Dolan.
Berman is a three-time All-Delco and Soeth returns as a senior to the All-Delco level he reached as a freshman. Todaro, Walker and Dolan appear on the team for the first time. The All-Delco team is selected by the Daily Times in consultation with county coaches.
Berman was coming off a big summer when the fall scholastic season commenced. He qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif. He lost in the first round to Maverick McNealy, who was a key figure this spring as a freshman for a Stanford team that fell to Oklahoma St. in a dramatic match in the NCAA semifinals.
"It was the coolest event I've played in to this point," said Berman. "The USGA puts on a tournament like no other. I met a lot of guys out there. The guy I lost to, Maverick McNealy, had a great year with Stanford and I almost took him to the 18th hole.
"You just have to play as hard as you can against competition like that."
Berman earned Golf Association of Philadelphia Junior Player of the Year honors for a second straight year and defeated Wissahickon standout Jalen Griffin in an 18-hole playoff to claim the Harry Hammond Award.
The momentum of that summer of success seemed to carry over for Berman early in the scholastic season as he had three straight low scores and Haverford School was locked in a tight battle with Malvern Prep through four Inter-Ac mini-tournaments. But the Fords struggled in the last two mini-tournaments while Malvern Prep swept the field at the mini-tournaments hosted by Penn Charter and Chestnut Hill-Springside.
And even though he was unable to make it three straight Inter-Ac tourney titles, Berman was glad his last official Inter-Ac event was on the site of last year's U.S. Open at Merion East. Berman manned the 11th tee at Merion for ESPN during the Open and exchanged a quick celebratory fist-bump with Phil Mickelson after Lefty had, moments earlier, got himself back in the picture in the final round by holing out for an eagle on the 10th hole.
"It was great that we got to play the East for my last Inter-Ac," Berman said. "You know how that course is, though, one bad shot and you can get yourself in a lot of trouble."
He is headed for Georgetown late in the summer, but there is a lot of golf to be played between now and then. He played for Philadelphia Cricket Club this spring as it came up just short in its bid to repeat as the GAP Team Match winner. He missed making match play at last week's Philadelphia Amateur at White Manor Country Club.
He continues to consult with Aronimink Golf Club's head of instruction John Bierkan when he thinks his swing needs a look.
Berman is still eligible for junior events and has his sights set on claiming a third GAP Junior Player of the Year honor. He will try to qualify for the U.S. Junior Amateur again and would like to get a shot at qualifying for the U.S. Amateur as well. The Pennsylvania Amateur will be staged at Oakmont Country Club and Berman would love to get a crack at that classic layout in the Pittsburgh area that has hosted eight U.S. Opens with a ninth scheduled for 2016.
Berman's legacy at The Haverford School is secure. He leaves with two Inter-Ac League individual titles and as a member of three Inter-Ac team champions, including the 2012 squad that was as dominant a high school golf team as you'll ever see anywhere.
"I started playing here as an eighth-grader, me and (Jake) Van Arkel and (Ryan) Tetrault," Berman said. "We've seen it all in those five seasons. Four straight Inter-Ac titles would have been great, but we got the three. And I think there's a good future. We have some good players coming up."