GLENSIDE, Pa. — Patrick Isztwan, like most Americans these days, needed to make a schedule change due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He intended on competing in the North & South Junior Championship at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, N.C. this week. But the ever-evolving health crisis forced Isztwan to withdraw. The Huntingdon Valley Country Club member instead enlisted in the 21st Christman Cup at LuLu Country Club (par 71, 6,479 yards) Thursday.
The switch yielded success. Isztwan, a rising senior at William Penn Charter School, carded a 3-under-par 68 to take his third GAP title in as many weeks. He earned the First Flight trophy in the 106th Junior Boys’ Championship and teamed with his dad Andy to capture the 63rd Father & Son (Younger) a week ago.
Aromink Golf Club’s Jake Maddaloni finished two strokes back of Isztwan at LuLu. The Christman Cup, typically a one-day, 36-hole event, was shortened to 18 holes this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was very fortunate. Chris (Roselle, GAP Tournament Director) was lucky enough to let me into the Christman Cup late because I was scheduled to play in North Carolina this week,” Isztwan, 17, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said. “The governor said you have to quarantine for 14 days now when you come back if you’re traveling to North Carolina. I was bummed, but you have to move forward.”
He moved forward alright. In fact, Isztwan leapt up the leaderboard after opening with three straight birdies.
On No. 1 (par 5, 479 yards), Isztwan caught the left greenside bunker on his second shot: a 6-iron from 190 yards. He splashed to eight feet and sunk the ensuing birdie. Isztwan’s pitching wedge set up the next two red figures. He knocked it 140 yards to 25 feet above the hole location on No. 2 (par 4, 356 yards) and drained the right-to-left slider. With a yardage of 135 for his approach on No. 3 (par 4, 424), Isztwan again grabbed that glistening pitching wedge, entrusting it to set up a five-footer for birdie.
“I think it’s smart to look at leaderboards if you’re trying to qualify. But I just wanted to relax, have fun and play some good golf.”Patrick Isztwan
Three holes, 3 under.
“That was the plan, but I didn’t expect it to actually happen,” Isztwan, a University of Richmond commit, said. “I just wanted to keep making birdies.”
The red streak came to a screeching halt on No. 4 (par 3, 84 yards) thanks to a three-putt bogey. Isztwan, playing in one the day’s final groups, reversed into a tie with clubhouse leader Maddaloni following a misstep on the tempting yet troublesome 10th hole (par 5, 522 yards). Driven by a jolt of aggression, he went for the green in two strokes with a hybrid from the right rough. The result? A “weird lie” at the rear of a sprawling green complex. Isztwan nudge a chip to 20 feet and three putted for bogey.
Now in tournaments past, Isztwan likely glances at the leaderboard at this point, sees his status as co-leader and trembles coming in. But he firmly broke that habit in 2020, and it served the lanky lancer well at LuLu.
“I found this year that I’ve been playing better when I’m more relaxed. When I look at leaderboards, I get really intense,” Isztwan said. “I think it’s smart to look at leaderboards if you’re trying to qualify. But I just wanted to have some fun, relax and play some good golf.”
The good golf continued down the stretch. Isztwan moved a stroke clear of Maddaloni with a birdie on No. 15 (par 3, 148 yards), where he drew a pitching wedge toward a tucked left hole location. He made the ensuing 15-footer. Insurance came on the par 5, 515-yard 17th hole. Isztwan buried a challenging downhiller after sending a smooth wedge from 75 yards to 20 feet above the flagstick. A safe 3-wood on LuLu’s 18th hole (par 4, 403 yards), a closer that can intimidate given its accuracy demands, assured. A gap wedge to 15 feet reassured.
“I loved the greens today. Some people said they were having trouble with them. I don’t know why. I just felt good on them,” Isztwan said.
Felt even better in the winner’s circle.
“This was a lot of fun. I was bummed when I saw that I couldn’t play in the Christman Cup because I love playing in all of the GAP Junior events,” Isztwan said. “It ended up working out.”
Maddaloni, 17, of Newtown Square, Pa., relied on tee position to navigate LuLu in 1 under. Despite a runner-up finish Thursday, not to mention a semifinals appearance in the Junior Boys’ Championship and a Top-5 finish in the Delaware State Golf Association’s Junior Championship, he is “meh” about his golf game of late.
“The last few tournaments, my swing hasn’t been there, so I’ve been playing a pull-cut, which isn’t my go-to. I was finally starting to hit it well yesterday. I got the draw going, which is my normal ball flight,” Maddaloni, a rising senior at The Haverford School, said.
Maddaloni leads Isztwan by a stroke in the Harry Hammond Award race. The Harry Hammond Award is comprised of the Junior Boys’ Championship Qualifier, Christman Cup and Jock MacKenzie Memorial, set for July 20 at Sandy Run Country Club.
The Christman Cup is named in honor of J. Fred Christman, former GAP Executive Committee member (1980-89) and Director of Competitions (1989-99). chaired the organization’s Junior Committee and thereby oversaw the administration of its Junior schedule annually. “Fred has been part of the glue that has held this organization together, making things work and handling many tough situations. Certainly, with the exception of Jim Sykes, no other individual has been as closely identified with GAP activities and players as Fred regardless of their status on the Executive Committee or staff,” former GAP President Ray Cross (1997-99) wrote in a letter published in the October 1999 Philadelphia Golfer. Christman died on Sept. 14, 2019 at the age of 86.
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 288 Member Clubs and 75,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of New Jersey and Delaware. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|Patrick Isztwan, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||68|
|Jake Maddaloni, Aronimink Golf Club||70|
|Michael Fioravante, LedgeRock Golf Club||71|
|Milo Jezzeny, The Bucks Club||71|
|Stephen Lorenzo, Manufacturers’ G&CC||71|
|Auggie Reilly, Merion Golf Club||71|
|Charlie Baker, Merion Golf Club||72|
|Matthew Homer, Wilmington Country Club||72|
|Tyler Zimmer, Philadelphia Country Club||72|
|Christopher Dorey, Metedeconk National Golf Club||73|
|John Bradbeer, Merion Golf Club||74|
|Ryan D’ariano, Penn Oaks Golf Club||74|
|Jackson Debusschere, The Springhaven Club||74|
|Jack Dunsmore, Talamore Country Club||74|
|Nathan Guertler, Tavistock Country Club||74|
|Darren Nolan, LuLu Country Club||74|
|William Pabst, Elmhurst Country Club||74|
|Conrad Benford, RiverCrest GC & Preserve||75|
|Jeffrey Homer, Wilmington Country Club||75|
|Matt Lafond, Blue Bell Country Club||75|
|Kevin Lydon, Commonwealth National Golf Club||75|
|Christian Matt, Talamore Country Club||75|
|Luke Corcoran, Cedarbrook Country Club||76|
|James Flickinger, Country Club of Scranton||76|
|Joey Morganti, Llanerch Country Club||76|
|Max Strout, Westwood Golf Club||76|
|Matthew Vital, Northampton Country Club||76|
|Jack Hamilton, Merion Golf Club||77|
|Scott Hughes, Talamore Country Club||77|
|Thomas Larkin, Paxon Hollow Country Club||77|
|Elias Sulpizio, Riverton Country Club||77|
|Evan Drummond, Applecross Country Club||78|
|Nick Hano, Commonwealth National Golf Club||78|
|Brett McGrath, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||78|
|Kevin Smith, The Springhaven Club||78|
|Luke Watson, RiverCrest GC & Preserve||78|
|Roy Anderson, Kennett Square G&CC||79|
|Stephen Butler, Indian Valley Country Club||79|
|Corey Haydu, Spring Mill Country Club||79|
|Jason Rieger, Sunnybrook Golf Club||79|
|Zachary Sandler, Bluestone Country Club||79|
|Tyler Debusschere, The Springhaven Club||80|
|Dylan Gooneratne, The 1912 Club||80|
|Ryan Kennedy, Applecross Country Club||80|
|Michael Lynch, Country Club of Scranton||80|
|Keller Mulhern, Whitford Country Club||80|
|John Romeo, Cedarbrook Country Club||80|
|Mario Ventresca, Cedarbrook Country Club||80|
|Evan Barbin, Loch Nairn Golf Club||81|
|David Fitzgerald, Philadelphia Country Club||81|
|Quinn Hamilton, Country Club of Scranton||81|
|Will Huntley, Blue Bell Country Club||81|
|Patrick Meko, North Hills Country Club||81|
|Lucas Steinmetz, Spring Ford Country Club||81|
|Anthony Ciconte, Wilmington Country Club||82|
|Bryce Fazio, Huntingdon Valley Country Club||82|
|Kevin Deng, Radnor Valley Country Club||83|
|Davis Flannery, Overbrook Golf Club||83|
|Jack Kearns, Trenton Country Club||83|
|Connor Toussaint, North Hills Country Club||83|
|August Blatney, Philadelphia Cricket Club||84|
|James Gradisek, Philadelphia Country Club||84|
|Kevin Lafond, Blue Bell Country Club||84|
|Peter Ryan, Philadelphia Cricket Club||84|
|Simon Miller, Woodcrest Country Club||85|
|Christopher Buysse, Waynesborough Country Club||86|
|Giles Elliott, Aronimink Golf Club||87|
|Daniel Flickinger, Country Club of Scranton||87|
|Jack Dare, Riverton Country Club||89|
|Joshua Murphy, Rolling Green Golf Club||89|
|Nathan Jones, The 1912 Club||93|
|Jake Micewski, GAP Youth on Course||93|
|Thomas Lynch, Country Club of Scranton||94|
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