EWING — Kyle Sterbinsky likes playing in the Mercer County boys golf tournament.
Now that the Peddie School junior and Yardley resident is two-time champion, it's easy to see why.
Sterbinsky shot a 3-under 69 to win his second straight MCT, this one Tuesday, May 6 at Mountain View Golf Club after he conquered Mercer Oaks a year ago.
"I love coming back to this tournament every year,' said Sterbinsky, who is the first player to win back-to-back titles since Princeton's Fraser Graham did it in 2010-11. "It's a great team event, especially with the kids on our team. It's a blast every year. To get the team title, too, that's just the icing on the cake.'
The Falcons placed four golfers in the top seven, grabbing a third consecutive team title with a score of 302. West Windsor South finished second with a 326 and Pennington third with 328.
"It means a lot for us,' Peddie coach Benjamin Bickford said. "Mercer County has some great golf. For us to come out here and be able to compete against them and then step up and play well on a big day, it means a lot for the program.'
Sterbinsky, the favorite coming in after claiming the 2013 title in a playoff, got off to a fast start with a birdie on one and never looked back. He added birdies on four and seven to go 3-under before bogeys on eight and 13 brought him back to 1-under.
The Wake Forest-bound Sterbinsky regrouped and ran off consecutive birdies on 14, 15, and 16 to secure back-to-back championships.
"I got the putter rolling at the end of the round,' Sterbinsky said. "It was good to grab a few birdies at the end.'
"He has the right temperament,' Bickford said. "He's able to get out to a quick start and then also when he gets the hiccups in the mid-round, he's able to forget about them and keep moving forward.'
Notre Dame junior Mike Winter finished second four shots back with a 1-over 73 after closing with two straight birdies.
"I knew I had to shoot a really low score,' Winter said. "I knew I had to go under to win. I went out there and kept that in the back of my mind until I needed to roll some birdies in.'
West Windsor South's Jake Gurock placed third with a 75 followed by the Peddie duo of Harry Brenner (76) and James Murphy (78). Sixth-place went to Pennington's Trevor Loeb (79) and seventh to Peddie's Dylan Lloyd (79) after a flip of the cards.
Sterbinsky was the only player to shoot under par on a sunny afternoon at the Mountain View course, which was hosting the boys MCT for the first time since 2004 when the winner was decided in a six-player sudden death playoff.
Only the top seven finishers managed to break 80.
Last year's third-place finisher, Tommy Hussong of West Windsor South fired an 81, while Hopewell Valley's Bryce Caton, fifth a year ago, finished with an 89.
Princeton Day's Katie Edelblut, who shot 3-over 75 to win the girls tournament two weeks ago, finished with an 88.
"I was in the second group, 1A, and when I found out, I freaked out,' said Edelblut, a senior bound for William & Mary next year. "I was shaking. I didn't really get over that until the back nine. I just wasn't in my element today.'
Sterbinsky, though, set the pace from the jump, making it difficult for anyone to catch him.
When he comes back next year as a senior, he can make MCT history. No player has won this event three consecutive times.
"Yeah, it's a good tournament,' Sterbinsky said. "I like it.'
MCT BOYS GOLF
at Mountain View Golf Club; par 72Top 7
1. Sterbinsky (Peddie) 69
2. Winter (ND) 73
3. Gurock (WWS) 75
4. Brenner (Peddie) 76
5. Murphy (Peddie) 78
6. Loeb (Penn) 79
7. Lloyd (Peddie) 79Team Scores
Peddie 302, West Windsor South 326, Pennington 328, Notre Dame 335, Hopewell 339, West Windsor North 343, Hun 348, Lawrence 364, Princeton 365, Ewing 368, Hightstown 370, Robbinsville 378, Steinert 387, Allentown 401, Princeton Day 429, Hamilton N/A, Nottingham N/A.