110th Junior Boys' Championship: Day Two - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Jun 18, 2024

110th Junior Boys’ Championship: Day Two

Semifinals set for Day Three

RINGOES, N.J. – A pair of Junior Boys’ Championship freshman, Noah Wallace and Thomas Young, and two La Salle College High School former teammates, Sebastian Botero and John Stevenson, occupy the four Semifinal positions in the 110th Junior Boys’ Championship at The Ridge at Back Brook (par 72, 6,519 yards) following Day Two Tuesday.

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Stevenston, of LuLu Country Club, is looking for repeat success after finding victory at his home club last year. The last player to do so was Joshua Ryan of The 1912 Club who won three consecutive Junior Boys’ titles (2020-22).


“I’d definitely say my confidence is a lot higher here than other events because I know I can do it now,” Stevenson, 18, of Ambler, Pa., said. “I’ve gotten so much better over the offseason. I started working with a new coach (Matt Wilson).”

During his afternoon match, the No. 1 seeded Stevenson outlasted No. 9 seed Aidan Farkas of Llanerch Country Club in a thrilling 2023 Junior Boys’ Round of 16 rematch that ended on No. 18 (par 5, 525 yards).

“It was the best match I played in a while,” Stevenson, who will attend Drexel University in the fall, said. “It was really good golf on the back nine. Aiden was playing really well. It felt like every shot he hit went right at the pin.”

The pair traded holes during the match’s early holes. At the the outward nine’s conclusion, Stevenson led 1-up. He continued the trend of steady golf on the back nine, but just as Farkas’ game began to warm with birdies on Nos. 12 (par 3, 127 yards) and 14 (par 5, 560 yards) Stevenson experienced a cold spell with his putter.

“I was getting a little frustrated because I was hitting really good shots and the putts just weren’t dropping,” Stevenson said.

Sitting at 1-down heading into No. 16 (par 4, 419 yards), Stevenson steered a 9-iron from 140 yards to 10 feet. Farkas’ approach landed short of the green which resulted in Stevenson evening the match with a two-putt par. On the 175-yard, par 3, 17th hole, Stevenson’s 7-iron stopped 15 feet from the hole on the fringe. A strong first putt settled 10 feet past the hole. No problem. He made a confident stroke resulting in a clutch conversion for a three. Farkas’ par putt lipped out. The two halved No. 18 (par 5, 525 yards) with birdies for a Stevenson victory, 1-up.

“It’s really just not trying to force shots close to the pin. I was just playing my game and hitting each shot as best as I can,” Stevenson said. “Coming down the stretch, I think the biggest mistake I make is trying to force stuff, but if you don’t try and force birdies a lot of times they come.”

Stevenson will roll a few putts tonight before heading to bed in advance of his 7:30 a.m. Semifinal match against Sebastian Botero.


Botero, who spent time with Stevenson on La Salle’s golf team, is looking forward to tomorrow’s Semifinal tilt with the reigning champion.

“I’m really excited to face him. We’ve played a lot of golf together and we’ve practiced a lot together,” Botero, a North Hills Country Club member, said. “He had such a good year last year and I didn’t have that great of a summer compared to him. I was kind of getting it a little bit during the winter, so I’ll see if I can bite back a little here. It’s going to be an intense match, I can guarantee you that.”

To get to the Semis, Botero, the No. 5 seed, upended No. 4 seed Michael Henry of Overbrook Golf Club, 2&1.

“I played really well. The driver was really sharp and the putter was cooperating,” Botero, 18, of Abington, Pa., said. “I made a couple really nice putts, especially closer to the back nine. I was really rolling it when I needed to.”

Throughout his afternoon match, Botero never lost the lead. He identified No. 9 (par 4, 403 yards) as a turning point in the match. He stopped a 60-degree wedge from 112 yards just 2 feet from the hole for a confidence-building birdie. He also noted an important up-and-down on No. 13 (par 4, 270 yards). He followed an errant tee shot with a chip that landed long of the green on the other side. He pitched his third shot to four feet and sunk the putt to keep momentum going.

Botero’s last Junior Boys’ appearance was in 2022 where he missed the cut by two shots.

A recent equipment change could be the secret to success for Botero tomorrow.

“I [recently] picked up a putter from my coach (John Dunigan). I putted with that for a couple of days and just wasn’t feeling comfortable, so I went back to the old Scotty [Cameron] that I’ve always putted with. I’ve just been seeing the hole a lot better and rolling it a lot better,” Botero, who will attend Millersville University in the fall, said. “If I can roll it well tomorrow, I think I can play some good golf.”

Making his GAP tournament debut is Chesapeake Bay Golf Club’s Noah Wallace. The 18-year-old, Elkton, Md. resident, typically spends the summer months playing in Maryland and Delaware state junior events. Space in his schedule and a strong field sold him on signing up for the Junior Boys’.

“There’s a bunch of good players [in this field],” Wallace, a recent Northeast High School graduate, said. “It’s a great course to play at too, so I knew it would be a good tournament.”


Playing as the Championship flight’s No. 11 seed, Wallace faced No. 14 seed Grant Burkhart of Kennett Square Golf & Country Club in his Quarterfinal match.

“[Noah] was a very good player,” Burkhart, who will attend Wilmington University in the fall, said. “He started out, 1-up, for the first couple holes. I knew it was going to be a battle the whole way.”

Throughout the entirety of the front nine, the match’s status toggled between a Burkhart lead and tied. Burkhart began the back with a trio of bogeys, Wallace was able to capitalize on his opponent’s shaky start which included a conceded eagle for Wallace on No. 11 (par 5, 516 yards).

Shortly thereafter, the tides changed and Wallace made three bogeys of his own. The match was tied heading into No. 18.

“You’ve just got to remind yourself that you’re still in this tournament, and it’s not over,” Wallace said. “You have to be confident in yourself and just trust in your game.”

Trust, and some good golf, is all it took. After a favorable tee shot, Wallace, needing a big play, lifted a 9-iron 175 yards to 15 feet. He drained the look for eagle and a spot in the Semifinals.

He’ll look for more of the same tomorrow.

“I’m putting well. I need to keep getting the ball in play off the tee,” Wallace said. “When I’m doing that, it’s very rare that I’m making bogeys out there.”

Wallace faces Stroke-Play Qualifying medalist and No. 2 seed, Thomas Young, of Saucon Valley Country Club, at 7:37 a.m. tomorrow.


Young, who is also navigating his first Junior Boys’, outlasted Harrison Brown of Philadelphia Country Club, 2-up, in the Quarters.

“I just played some solid golf. I just got a little cute around the greens. It started off as just a couple of bad things and I kind of got into a slightly bad mental state,” Young, 18, of Center Valley, Pa., said. “I was hitting the ball good enough to the point where it kind of made up for it.”

Last week, Young made a run to the Round of 16 in the 124th BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship. He lost to Talamore Country Club’s Patrick Sheehan, 1-up.

“Something I tried to focus on today as much as I could was my process. I try to not focus too much on the match. I want to keep doing my own thing.” Young, who will attend Methodist University in the fall, said. “I don’t want to change my game plan too much based off what the other guy dues. That happened when I played by match against Patrick Sheehan in the Philly Am.”

In the afternoon, Young dominated his Quarterfinal match. He extended his lead to as far as 3-up before having a few missteps in the later holes.

“I was able to hit good quality shots, it’s just the putting wasn’t there,” Young, who recently graduated from IMG Academy, said. “Putting has always been a struggle for me, but it’s been my main focus to work on. It’s improved heavily and I think it’s mostly confidence.”

On No. 17, his par putt from three feet lipped out. The miss dwindled his lead to just 1-up heading to No. 18. He corrected his mistake by hitting a 50-degree from 140 yards to 11 feet. He two putted for birdie.

“I need to keep swinging the way I’m swinging. I’ve got to swing with confidence, I’ve got to trust myself and just hope the putts fall.” Young said.

Round of 16

Shortly before his match with Farkas, Stevenson upended No. 16 seed Ethan Martin of Talamore in the Round of 16, 5&3. Both players spent countless hours on the golf course together as teammates at La Salle prior to their graduation this year. The pair played tournament match play against one another for the first time Tuesday.

“It’s a lot more fun and a lot less stressful,” Martin, 17, of North Wales, Pa., said. “It eases up the tension a little bit because you’re talking out there a bunch.”

“It was kind of awkward because Ethan is one of my friends, and we just did three years of La Salle golf together,” Stevenson said. “He’s a really nice kid and a really good player too, today was not his best day.”

In the day’s first match, the pair traded the lead throughout the front nine. On No. 9, Stevenson stopped a 60-degree wedge from 82 yards to four feet. He sunk the ensuing birdie for the match’s lead. A no-stress Stevenson par on No. 11, which he identified as the turning point in the match, extended his lead after Martin left himself out of position after his tee shot found the left fescue.

“When I feel like I play conservative I feel like I make a lot of birdies and a lot less bogeys,” Stevenson said. “I was striking it really well. Every iron and wedge that I hit came out on line with good contact.”

Martin signed up for his second Junior Boys’ Championship (2022) as a way to sharpen his game heading into the summer tournament season. Despite playing well and making birdies, the red hot Stevenson was almost always able to match or beat him.

“I don’t think I could have played any better,” Martin, who will attend West Chester University in the fall, said. “It’s tough to win when you birdie three straight holes and don’t even get a hole out of it. It’s tough playing John, he’s tough to compete with.”

The most notable of Martin’s bested birdies occurred when Stevenson dropped a 25-footer on No. 6 (par 4, 261 yards) after driving the green.

“It’s so demotivating when you’re playing such a good player.” Martin said. “In match play, if you’re a good putter it’s hard to beat.”

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.”

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 345 Member Clubs and 110,000 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.


Championship Flight

1. John Stevenson, LuLu Country Club, d. 9. Aidan Farkas, Llanerch Country Club, 1-up; 5. Sebastian Botero, North Hills Country Club, d. 4. Michael Henry, Overbrook Golf Club, 2&1; 2. Thomas Young, Saucon Valley Country Club, d. 7. Harrison Brown, Philadelphia Country Club, 2-up; 11. Noah Wallace, Chesapeake Bay Golf Club, d. 14. Grant Burkhart, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club, 1-up.

First Flight

1. Jack Homer, Wilmington Country Club, d. 9. Eamon Cochran, White Manor Country Club, 2&1; 5. Ian Larsen, Honeybrook Golf Club, d. 4. Eddie Gebhardt, Rolling Green Golf Club, 2&1; 10. Declan Conner, The Skramble House of Golf, d. 15. Brad McDermott, Aronimink Golf Club, 4&3; 3. Davis Conaway, Fieldstone Golf Club, d. 11. Anthony Proud, GAP Youth on Course, 5&4.

Round of 16

Championship Flight

1. Stevenson, d. 16. Ethan Martin, Talamore Country Club, 5&3; 9. Farkas d. 8. Seiji Sako, McCall Golf Club, 4&3; 4. Henry d. 13. Lannon Boyd, Overbrook Golf Club, 19 holes; 5. Botero, d. 12. Jake Lairdieson, The Springhaven Club, 2-up; 2. Young d. 15. Declan McLane, North Hills Country Club, 20 holes; 7. Brown d. 10. Diego Yanez, Cedarbrook Country Club, 1-up; 14. Burkhart d. 3. Charlie Barrickman, Radley Run Country Club, 4&3; 11. Wallace, d. 6. Colin McAskin, Saucon Valley Country Club, 6&4.

First Flight

1. Homer d. 16. Anestis Kalderemtzis, Penn Oaks Golf Club, 3&2; 9. Cochran d. 8. Kieran Gillespie, GAP Youth on Course, 7&6; 4. Gebhardt d. 13. Quin Zuegner, Lookaway Golf Club, 2-up; 5. Larsen d. Callahan Harrell, Out Door Country Club, 2&1; 15. McDermott, d. Ian Natale, Sunnybrook Golf Club, 2&1; 10. Conner d. 7. Nolan Corcoran, Cedarbrook Country Club, 8&7; 3. Conaway d. 14. Tyler Sugarman, Cherry Valley Country Club, 5&4; 6. Orris d. 11. Anthony Proud, GAP Youth on Course, 5&4.

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