Yfantopulos Wise Beyond His Years on the Golf Course
LOWELL -- There is a sense of perspective in the cerebral approach Mikey Yfantopulos takes to navigating his way around a golf course.
Yfantopulos’ style of play is built on a combination of tactics and intellect, which allows him to alter the geometry of his shots from hole to hole.
He is a student of the game. The 16-year-old Lowell resident works hard at improving his skills, and enjoys testing himself against strong competition.
In one of his final exams of the summer before the high school season begins later this month, Yfantopulos hopes to make his presence felt in the boys 16-18 division at the Lowell Junior City Golf Tournament at Mt. Pleasant GC Friday morning.
Yfantopulos, a rising junior at Central Catholic, is a member of the Long Meadow GC team. He won the boys 15-under division at the Junior Cities the past two years. In June, Yfantopulos posted a score of 73-77-75-225 en route to finishing in a tie for fifth place at the Lowell Men’s City Tournament.
“He’s a great golfer and a great young man,” said Long Meadow pro Gene Manley. “He’s very intelligent. He’s very smart. He loves the game. He has a lot of good qualities.
“He has a great head for the game. He hits the ball pretty straight. He’s a very good putter. He can really manage his game. He makes good decisions. He knows his game, what he can do. Kids his age usually go off track. But he always stays right on track and gets it done.”
Yfantopulos got it done in a big way during the opening round of the Men’s Cities, carding a 1-over 73 at Vesper CC, good for second place after 18 holes.
“After the first round (at the Men’s Cities) it felt so cool to be playing in the final group for the second round,” said Yfantopulos, who is an MVC all-conference golfer at Central Catholic. “With all the people there, everyone congratulated me after finishing (the first round). There’s nothing like it. It’s so much fun.”
Yfantopulos knows this year’s Junior Cities field includes a lot of talented players. Defending champion, Eric Roy, is scheduled to play for Mt. Pleasant’s squad.
“There are a lot of good players in this tournament,” said Yfantopulos. “I played with a lot of these guys growing up. I play against them in the Junior Cities, and now I play against them in high school all the time, too.
“I expect to do well. I need to hit the fairways and make putts. I know Mt. Pleasant well from playing in The Cities, and playing high school golf there. I think I can maneuver my way around the course and compete with what is going to be a very strong field.”
Yfantopulos showed his mettle at Mt. Pleasant during the Men’s Cities, where his round began with back-to-back double bogeys. But he never panicked and carded a solid score of 77.
“That was pretty impressive,” said Manley. “To start off double-double his first two holes at Mt. Pleasant and rebound like that. A kid that age is going to typically shoot 88, 89, 90 after that. He finished with a 77. So the last 16 holes he was only one-over par. That’s pretty good composure there.
“He’s definitely ready to move up (at the Junior Cities) and go for the big enchilada. It should be an interesting tournament. If he gets off to a good start, he should be right there.”
Yfantopulos wants to stay in the fairways in the hope of putting himself in a favorable position on the greens.
“My short game is the key to my success, chipping and putting,” said Yfantopulos. “Even when I don’t hit the ball well off the tee, as long as my short game is working well, I shouldn’t go too high.”
In the classroom, Yfantopulos is a high-honor roll student who sports a 4.5 grade-point-average.
“I pride myself on getting good grades,” said Yfantopulos. “I definitely want to play golf in college. Whatever is the best academic school I can play golf at will be the best option for me.”
Yfantopulos isn’t the only athlete in his family. His older brother, Jimmy, was a standout guard at the Brimmer and May School and is going into his freshman season on the Colgate University basketball team.
The support he has received from his parents, Susan and George, has helped him become a better golfer.
“Once I started playing I just fell in love with the sport,” said Yfantopulos. “My handicap has been trending lower and lower. It’s fun to see improvement. It makes me work harder.
“I get fired up when I hit a good shot. But when I hit a bad shot, I try to put it behind me and focus on the next one. I just want to stay composed. Concentrate on having a good round and don’t worry about any bad shots. That’s my approach.”
And it’s served him well.
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