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108th #GAPJunior: Day One

Ryan, Werner share Junior medal at Bala

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — A Junior Boys’ Championship sophomore and the event’s two-time defending titleholder shared medalist honors in stroke-play qualifying Monday at Bala Golf Club (par 68, 5,306 yards).

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Huntsville Golf Club’s Nick Werner, who missed the match-play cut a year ago, and The 1912 Club’s Joshua Ryan, chasing history in his final year of Junior eligibility, carded respective even-par 68s in the event’s 108th edition. Ryan, as defending champion, already assumed the No. 1 seed. Warner will be seeded No. 2.

The cut line stopped at 73 by day’s end. A five-for-three playoff determined the Championship Flight’s remaining entrants. Chesapeake Bay Golf Club’s Evan Barbin, McCall Golf Club’s Seiji Sako and Penn Oaks Golf Club’s Eli Shah advanced.

The Round of 16 begins at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow.

Both Werner and Ryan did their homework en route to co-medalist honors. They placed a premium on tee positioning to tackle Bala’s miniature yet muscular green complexes. Werner reviewed Google Earth images of Bala. The lessons learned?

“Small greens and don’t hit driver. I only hit driver three times today. With all of my other clubs, I was lucky I was hitting them pretty straight,” Werner, 15, of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., said. “Getting to know the golf course [is what I learned from last year]. I’ve got to study a course before I come out here. I think studying it and being prepared is the most important part.”

Ryan used Monday as a study session.

Josh Ryan

“I know Bala is a little bit of an interesting course, so I thought it would be good to see it under tournament conditions. Just to see which clubs work, so I tried some different stuff today,” Ryan, 18, of Norristown, Pa., said. “I wanted to look at the greens and see everything I need for the next few days.”

When the long-hitting Ryan did decide to pull driver, it paid off. He birdied No. 12 (par 4, 306 yards) after his drive grabbed the apron. Two putts from 40 feet did the trick. Ryan buried a 20-footer for eagle on the par 4, 293-yard 17th hole after splitting the green with a pinpoint drive.

“Once I saw [the clubhouse lead] was 1 over, I was like, ‘I’ve got to try and beat that.’ There was a little pressure down the stretch. I took a really aggressive line, but I hit it perfect,” Ryan, who will attend Liberty University in the fall, said.

Ryan, who played in the morning, preserved co-medalist honors by executing a laudable par save on No. 18 (par 4, 362 yards). After finding the adjacent 14th fairway (par 4, 333 yards), Ryan steered a 9-iron from 135 yards around a tree. However, it flew the green and left Ryan with a tedious lie. The ball below his feet, Ryan nurtured a chip into gimme territory.

The 18th hole, coincidentally, denied Werner outright medalist honors. A wayward hybrid off the tee forced a punch-out. Werner then lifted a wedge to nine feet, but his par putt snapped left at the cup.

“Just getting off the tee and hitting it straight was key today. As soon as I was in the fairway, I was pretty confident with my wedge game,” Werner, a rising sophomore at Wyoming Seminary, said. “I decided to make some putts after that.”

Werner, who played in the afternoon, turned in 1 over, the lone miscue occurring on No. 7 (par 4, 380 yards). His hybrid kicked into a penalty area. His stance essentially in a ditch, only a pitchout seemed probable. Werner played onto the green and missed a 20-footer to save par. A pair of back-nine birdies allowed the lefty to match Ryan. He nearly holed a 60-degree wedge from 87 yards on No. 11 (par 4, 385 yards). Werner drained an uphill 10-footer on No. 12 (par 4, 306 yards) after hitting a 60-degree wedge from 48 yards.

A day off did wonders for Werner. He didn’t pick up a golf club yesterday. Instead, Werner celebrated his 15th birthday by hanging out with family members and playing backyard games such as cornhole.

Ryan decided not to take Monday off, even though his defending champion moniker afforded such relaxation. He’s conquered the Junior Boys’ Championship mountain twice; Another climb is firmly on his radar. In 2021, Ryan became the ninth player in event history to successfully defend his title. Only Meredith M. Jack (1914-16) won the Junior Boys’ in three consecutive years.

“I love the event. I love match play. Anytime I can play match play, I love to play it,” Ryan, who reached the Round of 16 in the BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship a week ago, said. “It’s also good to not expect to win, but always trying to win is always a good thing. The more you win, the more confidence you can get. So if I can do that this week, that would be awesome. I’m going to take it the same way I always take it. One match at a time. One hole at a time. Not get ahead of myself.”

NOTES
Wilmington Country Club, represented by the Homer brothers (Jack, Jeffrey and Matthew) and Kristof Kopecky, retained the Junior Team Championship. It filed an 18-over-par 222 to prevail by two strokes over Cedarbrook Country Club. The Junior Team Championship runs concurrently with Junior Boys’ Championship Qualifying. Three of four scores count toward the team total … Brookside Country Club of Allentown’s Matthew Zerfass aced No. 16 (par 3, 97 yards) with a lob wedge. It marked his first career hole-in-one. Zerfass, 18, of Macungie, Pa., is a recent Emmaus High School graduate. He will attend Saint Joseph’s University in the fall.

Junior Boys’ Championship
The Junior Boys’ Championship is the premier Major in the GAP Junior Division. It is open to members of a GAP Member Club 14-18 years of age who have not started their college education and who hold a handicap index of 14.4 or lower. Sixteen players qualify for match play; an additional 16 advance into the event’s First Flight.

The Junior Boys’ Champion is awarded the Peg Burnett Trophy, named in honor of the Association’s Executive Secretary from 1951-76. Ms. Burnett was an ardent Junior golf supporter who emphasized sportsmanship and respect for the game. “I was very strict about checking the rule book. I didn’t make the rules, but since they are there, you have to abide by them.”

GAP
Celebrating Amateur Golf since 1897, GAP, also known as the Golf Association of Philadelphia, is the oldest regional or state golf association in the United States. It serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. The Association’s 300 Member Clubs and 80,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Results
Championship Flight
Name, clubScore
Joshua Ryan, The 1912 Club68
Nick Werner, Huntsville Golf Club68
Matthew Homer, Wilmington Country Club69
Keller Mulhern, Whitford Country Club69
Christian Deussing, Jericho National Golf Club70
Davis Conaway, Fieldstone Golf Club71
Aidan Farkas, Llanerch Country Club71
Nathan Guertler, Merion Golf Club71
Tyler Leyden, North Hills Country Club71
Carson Thompson, Laurel Creek Country Club71
Matthew Zerfass, Brookside CC of Allentown71
Anthony Ciconte, Wilmington Country Club72
Michael Lugiano, Huntsville Golf Club72
*Evan Barbin, Chesapeake Bay Golf Club73
*Seiji Sako, McCall Golf Club73
*Eli Shah, Penn Oaks Golf Club73
First Flight
*Sean Kelly, Bucknell Golf Club73
*Christian Matt, Cedarbrook Country Club73
Ryan D’Ariano, Penn Oaks Golf Club74
Tyler Debusschere, The Springhaven Club74
Kevin Lydon, Commonwealth National Golf Club74
Matthew Normand, Laurel Creek Country Club74
James Ulsh, Carlisle Country Club74
Jack Homer, Wilmington Country Club75
Scott Hughes, Cedarbrook Country Club75
Jack Orr, Little Mill Country Club75
Sean Curran, Merion Golf Club76
Daniel Flaherty, Rolling Green Golf Club76
Kevin Lafond, Blue Bell Country Club76
Ethan Martin, GAP Youth on Course76
Darren Nolan, Cedarbrook Country Club76
*John Curran, Chester Valley Golf Club77
Failed to qualify
*Michael Deussing, Jericho National Golf Club77
*Matthew Hurchalla, The Springhaven Club77
*Kasim Narinesingh-Smith, Radley Run Country Club77
Owen Blazick, Wyoming Valley Country Club78
Jack Dare, Riverton Country Club78
Jeffrey Homer, Wilmington Country Club78
Ryan Hsieh, Penn Oaks Golf Club78
Connor Matteo, Valley Country Club78
Alex Nemo, Merion Golf Club78
Rory Nesbitt, Merion Golf Club78
Nicky Riscica, Trenton Country Club78
Jeffrey Seiler, Indian Valley Country Club78
Sebastian Botero, North Hills Country Club79
Jack Crowley, Aronimink Golf Club79
Jack Davis, Aronimink Golf Club79
Kristof Kopecky, Wilmington Country Club79
Benjamin Saggers, Applecross Country Club79
Liam Shearn , McCall Golf Club79
Matthew Caputo, The Springhaven Club80
Steven Fryer, Commonwealth National Golf Club80
Joe Kriz, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club80
Liam McFadden, Overbrook Golf Club80
Chase Stephano, Aronimink Golf Club80
Cade Kelleher, Country Club of Scranton81
Nick Linkchorst, Golf Course at Glen Mills81
Stephen Rebar, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club81
Reilly Shaffer, Llanerch Country Club81
John Stevenson, North Hills Country Club81
Harrison Brown, Philadelphia Country Club82
Matthew Buckley, Rolling Green Golf Club82
Matthew Dietl, GAP Youth on Course82
Adam Fluehr, North Hills Country Club82
Eric Fryer, Commonwealth National Golf Club82
Tyler Smith, Laurel Creek Country Club82
Lucas Steinmetz, Spring Ford Country Club82
Hunter Stetson, Aronimink Golf Club82
Chris Vahey , North Hills Country Club82
Grant Urie, Hartefeld National83
Will Dunsmore, Talamore Country Club84
Luke Evans, St. Davids Golf Club84
J.P. Hoban, McCall Golf Club84
Marshall Kain, Overbrook Golf Club84
Leo Knott, Rolling Green Golf Club84
Peter Lafon, GAP Youth on Course84
Quin Bongiovanni, Paxon Hollow Country Club85
Paul Reilly, Galloway National Golf Club85
Alec Thiele, GAP Youth on Course85
Brett Keenan, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club86
Reid Walker, Riverton Country Club86
Joe Ciconte, Wilmington Country Club87
Nicky Nemo, Merion Golf Club87
Jack Chodkowski, Overbrook Golf Club88
Julian Boyer, GAP Youth on Course89
Davis Fairbanks, The Springhaven Club89
Justin Forman, Scotland Run Golf Club89
John Rouse, Aronimink Golf Club89
Nolan Corcoran, GAP Youth on Course90
Zach Moua, St. Davids Golf Club90
Anthony Tedeschi, Little Mill Country Club91
James Barton, GAP Youth on Course92
Trevor Dendler, Yardley Country Club92
Thomas DiGiulio, Wedgwood Country Club92
Kyle Watson, Cedarbrook Country Club92
Christian Dawley, Philadelphia Country Club94
Drew Miller, Pottsville ll TG GC94
Colin Drummond, GAP Youth on Course95
Sam Houchen, GAP Youth on Course95
Ian McEwen, Sandy Run Country Club95
Will Walsh, Philadelphia Country Club96
Devin Carpenter, Walnut Lane Golf Club97
Anthony Carson, GAP Youth on Course100
Jason Jones, Radley Run Country Club102
Frankie Kolanko, Yardley Country ClubNS
Michael Maslanka, Country Club of ScrantonWD
Shane Powelson, Bidermann Golf CourseWD
* – determined in playoff
NS – no show; WD – withdrawal