Jul 13, 2023

24th Christman Cup

LuLu’s Stevenson adds Christman to collection

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — If the golf benchmarks continue at this rate, then John Stevenson may need to hire a documentarian.

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A tall order for any 17-year-old. Let alone one whose ascent mirrors the likes of a Chris Pratt in Hollywood. Stevenson, the reigning GAP Junior Boys’ Champion, captured the 24th Christman Cup Thursday at a steamy Gulph Mills Golf Club (par 71, 6,450 yards).

He did so by carding rounds of 66, a personal best in competition, and 71 for a 5-under-par 137. The LuLu Country Club member edged Radley Run Country Club’s Charlie Barrickman and Aronimink Golf Club’s Hunter Stetson by two strokes.

Stevenson is the third individual to win the Junior Boys’ Championship and Christman Cup in the same year (Austin Barbin, 2019; Billy Stewart, 2001).

“I wouldn’t expect this to happen. It’s just crazy, to be honest. It really is,” Stevenson, of Ambler, Pa., said. “There’s no better feeling. My family and friends support me so much. It’s a nice validation for the work that I’ve put in.”

The aforementioned work justifies Stevenson’s rapid rise to Junior stardom. Throughout the winter, rarely a day passed when he didn’t hit a golf ball or roll a putt.

“I was in the Skramble House of Golf [in Horsham, Pa.] every day. From the morning to night. It really paid off,” Stevenson, a rising senior at La Salle College High School, said.

Free admission to Stevenson’s sonata Thursday at Gulph Mills. His competitive-best 66 meant a one-stroke lead over Stenson after Round One.

Starting on the back nine, he made a 12-footer for birdie on No. 12 (par 5, 520 yards) after arriving greenside in two. Stevenson rattled off a trio of birdies approaching the turn. After nearly reaching No. 18 (par 5, 464 yards) green in two with a hybrid, Stevenson lipped a chip for eagle. Gimme 4. His 8-iron from 151 yards on No. 1 (par 4, 415 yards) settled 45 feet above the flagstick. He drained the delicate downhiller. Stevenson converted a five-footer for birdie on No. 2 (par 4, 404 yards) following a sound gap wedge from 108 yards.

Back-to-back birdies on Nos. 4 (par 3, 108 yards) and 5 (par 4, 398 yards) further elevated Stevenson’s status. He spun a 56-degree wedge on the former to a foot. Stevenson’s 52-degree wedge from 106 yards on No. 5 stopped four feet from the hole location. His lone misstep occurred on No. 8 (par 4, 351 yards), where Stevenson missed the green with a 56-degree wedge from 100 yards.

Stevenson registered 16 greens in regulation in Round One. He implemented a basic yet bountiful strategy for Round Two.

“Just play as well as I can, hit as good of shots as I can. I executed that strategy pretty well,” Stevenson said. “The course is amazing. I did pretty much everything well today.”

Stevenson appeared in cruise control at the outset of Round Two. He moved to 6 under following a 12-footer for birdie on No. 4. Then the Stevenson show stopped suddenly after three consecutive bogeys.

Stevenson snapped a drive into the penalty area on No. 7 (par 5, 498 yards). A three-putt from 35 feet on No. 8 added to the aches there. In between clubs on No. 9 (par 4, 370 yards), Stevenson selected pitching wedge from 125 yards, only to pull it atop the left greenside bunker. He failed to get up-and-down.

“I’m not going to lie. I got a little frustrated. The 8th hole does not like me,” Stevenson said.

Nerves penetrated Stevenson’s typically thick skin. Although he didn’t glance at a leaderboard, he sensed a renewed hope for the field. The Christman Cup, at that point, returned to its post Round One branding as a Stevenson/Stenson showdown.

Stenson, a rising senior at Episcopal Academy, birdied Nos. 9 and 10 (par 4, 408 yards) to move to 5 under.

“I know John is a good player because he won the GAP Junior [Boys’ Championship], so I knew I was going to have to fire a low score. Each hole, I was trying to give myself the best possible chance at birdie without bringing high numbers into play,” Stenson, 17, of Newtown Square, Pa., said. “I think I did a solid job with that at the start. That three-putt bogey [on No. 14] … I let that mentality get away from me.”

A “bad swing” on No. 15 (par 4, 380 yards) — an 8-iron from 170 yards that caught the left greenside bunker — resulted in another bogey. Stenson, playing in the group ahead of Stevenson, looked back at No. 14 as a means of mentally gauging Stevenson’s status.

Leader once again at that point.

After striping a drive on No. 11 (par 4, 315 yards), Stevenson spun a wedge from 43 yards to eight feet for birdie. He added another one on the next hole after flipping a wedge over the left greenside bunker to five feet. Stevenson moved to three shots clear of Stenson and company after a superb gap wedge from the right fairway bunker on No. 16 (par 4, 395 yards) skidded to a foot for birdie. A bogey on No. 17 (par 3, 212 yards) merely reinjected some nerves on Gulph Mills’ closer (par 5, 464 yards).

Prior to his Christman coronation, Stevenson felt frustrated with his ball-striking. The solution?

“This week, I worked so hard on my ball-striking, and it really paid off. I’ve been working on the swing all week,” Stevenson said.

Hard work pays off. The Stevenson sonata.

The Christman Cup is named in honor of J. Fred Christman, former GAP Executive Committee member (1980-89) and Director of Competitions (1989-99). He 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 edition of Philadelphia Golfer. Christman died on Sept. 14, 2019 at the age of 86.

Harry Hammond Award
Stevenson leads Stenson by four strokes in the Harry Hammond Award race. The Harry Hammond Award is comprised of Junior Boys’ Championship Qualifying, Christman Cup and Jock MacKenzie Memorial, set for July 17 at Sandy Run Country Club.

However, neither Stevenson or Stenson is competing in the Jock MacKenzie Memorial. As a result of their respective absences, there is a three-way tie atop the standings at 4 over: Fieldstone Golf Club’s Davis Conaway, Sunnybrook Golf Club’s Ian Natale and Wilmington Country Club’s Jeffrey Homer.

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 organization’s 340 Member Clubs and 100,000 individual members are spread across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Name, clubRd1-Rd2–Total
John Stevenson, LuLu Country Club66-71–137
Hunter Stetson, Aronimink Golf Club67-72–139
Charlie Barrickman, Radley Run Country Club70-69–139
Shaun Mazzalupi, Philadelphia Cricket Club72-68–140
Drew Clark, Bidermann Golf Club72-70–142
Jeffrey Homer, Wilmington Country Club71-73–144
Ethan Martin, Talamore Country Club73-72–145
Nolan Corcoran, Philadelphia Junior Tour72-73–145
Ian Natale, Sunnybrook Golf Club74-72–146
Kasim Narinesingh-Smith, Radley Run Country Club74-72–146
Kevin Lafond, Blue Bell Country Club74-72–146
Michael Deussing, Jericho National Golf Club73-73–146
Benjamin Saggers, Applecross Country Club77-69–146
Matthew Vital, Northampton Country Club74-72–146
Thomas Young, Saucon Valley Country Club74-73–147
Davis Conaway, Fieldstone Golf Club72-76–148
Adam Fluehr, North Hills Country Club72-76–148
Evan Eichenlaub, Saucon Valley Country Club75-73–148
Winston Kelenc-Blank, Saucon Valley Country Club74-75–149
J.P. Hoban, The 1912 Club74-76–150
Win Thomas, USGA/GAP GC76-75–151
Nathan Guertler, Merion Golf Club76-75–151
Scott Hughes, Cedarbrook Country Club77-74–151
Jack Crowley, Aronimink Golf Club77-75–152
Matthew Homer, Wilmington Country Club77-75–152
Chris Vahey, North Hills Country Club74-78–152
Jack Dare, Riverton Country Club74-78–152
Alec Hamilton, Country Club of Scranton75-77–152
Carson Thompson, Laurel Creek Country Club75-78–153
Nick Ciocca, Aronimink Golf Club79-75–154
Kyle Mauro, Waynesborough Country Club77-77–154
Evan Gebhart, Wild Quail Golf & Country Club76-79–155
John Rouse, Aronimink Golf Club74-82–156
Lannon Boyd, Overbrook Golf Club77-79–156
Jackson Fryer, Commonwealth National Golf Club81-75–156
Jackson Puskar, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club77-79–156
Shayne O’Doherty, Stonewall76-80–156
Jack Brennan, Bellewood Country Club79-77–156
Cole Berry, Overbrook Golf Club83-74–157
Jack Homer, Wilmington Country Club80-77–157
Brent Glah, Commonwealth National Golf Club77-80–157
Brian Cotter, Legacy Club at Woodcrest78-79–157
Christopher Sung, Waynesborough Country Club79-79–158
Christian Dawley, Philadelphia Country Club78-80–158
Lucas Steinmetz, Spring Ford Country Club79-79–158
Tommy Marshall, Medford Lakes Country Club78-80–158
Liam McFadden, Overbrook Golf Club75-84–159
Alex Nemo, Merion Golf Club80-79–159
Zachary Antao, GAP Youth on Course83-77–160
Seiji Sako, McCall Golf Club77-83–160
Matthew Normand, Laurel Creek Country Club84-77–161
Peter Lafon, GAP Youth on Course80-81–161
P.J. Geib, Sandy Run Country Club80-81–161
Ryan Quinn, Commonwealth National Golf Club83-79–162
Joe Ciconte, Wilmington Country Club83-79–162
Will Walsh, Philadelphia Country Club81-81–162
Declan McLane, North Hills Country Club86-76–162
Charlie Ferrise, RiverCrest GC & Preserve85-77–162
Kristof Kopecky, Wilmington Country Club80-82–162
Will Dunsmore, Jericho National Golf Club81-82–163
Shane Powelson, Bidermann Golf Club80-83–163
Zach Moua, St. Davids Golf Club80-83–163
Joshua Emel, White Clay Creek Country Club84-79–163
Liam Shearn, McCall Golf Club77-86–163
Jason Jones, Radley Run Country Club80-84–164
Paul Reilly, Galloway National Golf Club82-82–164
Tyler Debusschere, The Springhaven Club80-84–164
Alec Thiele, Walnut Lane Golf Club82-84–166
Brady Crow, Moorestown Field Club78-88–166
Harrison Brown, Philadelphia Country Club81-85–166
Brad McDermott, Aronimink Golf Club85-85–170
Devin Carpenter, Walnut Lane Golf Club84-91–175
Quin Bongiovanni, Overbrook Golf Club91-88–179
Quin Zuegner, Lookaway Golf Club91-89–180
Nick Waskey, Doylestown Country ClubDQ-DQ–DQ
Michael Dignazio, Wilmington Country ClubDQ-DQ–DQ
Aidan Farkas, Llanerch Country Club75-WD–WD
Michael Vital, Northampton Country ClubWD-WD–WD
DQ – disqualification; WD – withdrawal

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