Wilmington’s Homer repeats, nips Ryan in playoff
ORELAND, Pa. — The final Junior event of the tournament season, to the delight of golf poets everywhere, came down to the division’s top heavyweights.
Matthew Homer and Joshua Ryan finished the 38th Jock MacKenzie Memorial at Sandy Run Country Club (par 72, 6,531 yards) tied at 3-under-par 69 Monday. In overtime, Homer landed a triumphant haymaker on No. 15 (par 5, 484 yards), where he sunk a slippery 20-footer for birdie.
Homer is the second individual to win the Jock MacKenzie in consecutive years (Mark Zbrzeznj, 2000-01).
He became the first individual to capture the Christman Cup and Jock MacKenzie Memorial in the same year. The Christman Cup, a 36-hole Junior event, started in 2000.
“It’s awesome to win it back-to-back. It’s a cool honor,” Homer, 17, of Wilmington, Del., said. “It’s the best I’ve ever played in my life. It’s been unreal. Obviously, the swing feels great. I’m just finding ways to get the ball in the hole.”
“Matt’s probably the best player I know. He makes a ton of putts. Any putt that’s inside 30 feet and pretty straight, you know he’s going to have a good run at it,” Ryan, 18, of Norristown, Pa., said. “He’s dangerous that way.”
Homer and Ryan, poets rejoice once more, finished 1-2 in the Christman Cup four days ago. The showdown between these Junior prizefighters isn’t over, either. Homer and Ryan will meet again on Aug. 11 at Sandy Run to decide the Harry Hammond Award winner. Both finished the race tied at 7-under-par 277, which broke Cole Berman’s scoring record of 279 (3 under) set in 2012.
“It’s the best I’ve ever played in my life. It’s been unreal.”Matt Homer
The Harry Hammond Award is a calculation of the aggregate scores from Junior Boys’ Championship Qualifier, 36 holes of the Christman Cup and Jock MacKenzie Memorial. GAP incorporated the Jock MacKenzie into the award in 2007. Homer’s twin brother Jeff earned the honor a year ago.
In the sudden-death playoff, Homer converted a testy 10-footer on No. 10 (par 3, 135 yards) to preserve his Jock MacKenzie title prospects.
“I got a little bit of a tease from Josh there,” he said. “Looking at that putt at first, it looked like it wasn’t going to move at all. Then I saw Josh’s birdie putt dive a little left, so I said, ‘OK, I’m going to play this at the edge.’ And it went in. That was a cool moment.”
A towering drive on the aforementioned 15th hole played a role in Homer’s winning moment. He followed with a 7-iron from 192 yards to the doorstep of a front hole location. Ryan, meanwhile, flailed a drive right. At the mercy of obstructing trees, he attempted to cut a 6-iron from 192 yards. It came out dead, the mishit chaining Ryan to the right fairway bunker — 64 yards from the flagstick. He spun a wedge into another tedious spot. Askew aim required to navigate a daunting slope.
“The putt I didn’t have a birdie look. I just had to go for a slinger that maybe catches the cup,” Ryan, a member of The 1912 Club, said.
Homer’s chip “jumped a bit” and left the Wilmington Country Club member 20 feet above the hole location.
“It had two feet of left-to-right break. I went aggressive, held the finish and just hoped it would drop, and it did,” Homer, a rising senior at The Tatnall School, said. “Honestly, it felt like déjà vu [from my birdie on the last hole of The Christman Cup]. It’s just cool to make a birdie to win again.”
A second-straight Jock MacKenzie win seemed improbable if you bent Homer’s ear after No. 6 (par 4, 386 yards) Monday. Needing to flight a 60-degree wedge from 99 yards over a tree, he instead clipped a branch. Homer’s third shot brought more of the same tree interference. He played his fourth off a root and onto the green. Two putts for a double bogey.
“That was a disaster,” Homer said. “Other than that hole, I didn’t really make any mistakes. I knew I had to stay in it. I knew birdies were out there today. I just had to keep my head down, keep plugging along and see what happens at the end.” Homer rebounded with a birdie on the next hole (par 4, 315 yards), where he nicked a wedge 35 yards to 10 feet.
Once Homer made the turn at Sandy Run, he morphed into his alter ego: The Closer.
Homer inked a clean 4-under-par 32 coming in. He nearly reached the 11th (par 5, 595 yards) green in two with a 3-wood from 280 yards. A chip to tap-in territory pulled the birdie trigger. On No. 14 (par 4, 423 yards), his knockdown 8-iron from 152 yards found the right fringe. No problem. Homer drained a 35-footer for birdie. His “best drive of the day” came on the next hole (par 5, 484 yards), setting up a suitable 9-iron from 162 yards. A chip to three feet resulted in another birdie. With a titled stance in the left fairway bunker on No. 17 (par 4, 386 yards), Homer lifted a sand wedge 120 yards to 30 feet. His birdie putt dripped in over the left edge. Homer almost clinched a second-straight Jock MacKenzie title in regulation, but his downhill slider for birdie from 15 feet on No. 18 (par 4, 337 yards) snapped at the hole.
Playing three groups behind Homer, Ryan appeared on cruise control from the outset. He inked a clean 3-under-par 36 on his outward tour. On No. 3 (par 4, 421 yards), Ryan hit a soft 9-iron from 140 yards out of the right rough to 15 feet for birdie. Facing another lie in the right rough, this time on No. 5 (par 4, 418 yards), Ryan knocked an a-wedge 125 yards to 25 feet for birdie. His pitch from 40 yards greenside left on No. 8 (par 5, 537 yards) stopped 12 feet from the hole location. Ryan again made good on birdie.
He birdied No. 11 (par 5, 595 yards) after smacking a sand wedge 75 yards to eight feet. A birdie on the par 4, 423-yard 14th hole gave Ryan a two-stroke lead over the field. He punched an 8-iron 150 yards to four feet. Sandy Run’s final two holes bit an otherwise unflappable Ryan. On No. 17 (par 4, 386 yards), his wedge from the right rough caught the collar some 40 feet below the hole location. He three putted from there for bogey. The 18th hole (par 4, 337 yards) presented more of the same. A three-putt from 35 feet after netting the green safely with a 9-iron from 130 yards.
But Ryan knows this season’s Junior show isn’t quite over yet.
“We get one more match. It’s been close,” Ryan, who will attend Liberty University in the fall, said. “He edged me at The Christman Cup, and he edged me here. It’s been good, but hopefully we can get the win. It was nice that I didn’t shoot a single over-par round [in the Harry Hammond Award race]. I’ve been playing good golf.”
Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club’s Gregory Kriz defeated Green Valley Country Club’s Henry Sokol in a sudden-death playoff to take the event’s Junior-Junior Boys’ (par 36, 2,741 yards) title. Both finished regulation tied at 9-over-par 45.
On No. 10 (par 3, 108 yards), the first playoff hole, Kriz hit a pitching wedge greenside left. Sokol needed to swings to exit the front bunker. Kriz needed two putts for the win.
Kriz, 13, of Oreland, Pa., is a rising eighth grader at Saint Genevieve School.
Junior Girls’ Division
Applecross Country Club’s Silvana Gonzalez captured the event’s Junior Girls’ (par 72, 5,464 yards). She carded an 11-over-par 83.
Gonzalez, 17, of Exton, Pa., is an academic senior enrolled in the University Scholars Program.
Jock MacKenzie served as Sandy Run Country Club’s head professional for more than three decades. The Memorial tournament, which originated in 1985, is named in his honor. Sandy Run hosts the event each year.
Harry Hammond Award
Harry Hammond, an ardent supporter of Junior golf both locally and nationally, served as the Philadelphia PGA Section’s Junior Golf Chairman for 29 years. He is the Director of Golf at Penn Oaks Golf Club and head men’s golf coach of West Chester University. A 55-year member of the PGA of America, Hammond received the organization’s Bill Strausbaugh Award for leadership and service to the game of golf in 2012.
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 330 Member Clubs and 90,000 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.
|Junior Boys’ Division|
|*Matthew Homer, Wilmington Country Club||69|
|Joshua Ryan, The 1912 Club||69|
|Jackson Fryer, Commonwealth National Golf Club||71|
|Christian Matt, Cedarbrook Country Club||71|
|Daniel Flaherty, Rolling Green Golf Club||73|
|Jeffrey Homer, Wilmington Country Club||73|
|Jack Homer, Wilmington Country Club||74|
|Aidan Farkas, Llanerch Country Club||75|
|Tyler Leyden, North Hills Country Club||75|
|Darren Nolan, Cedarbrook Country Club||75|
|Lucas Steinmetz, Spring Ford Country Club||75|
|Zachary Antao, GAP Youth on Course||76|
|Eric Fryer, Commonwealth National Golf Club||76|
|Declan McLane, North Hills Country Club||76|
|P.J. Geib, Sandy Run Country Club||77|
|Keller Mulhern, Whitford Country Club||77|
|Nicky Nemo, Merion Golf Club||77|
|Anthony Ciconte, Wilmington Country Club||78|
|Charles Feraco, Commonwealth National Golf Club||78|
|Jake Micewski, LuLu Country Club||78|
|Rory Nesbitt, Merion Golf Club||78|
|John Romeo, Cedarbrook Country Club||78|
|Ryan Quinn, Commonwealth National Golf Club||79|
|Connor Toussaint, North Hills Country Club||79|
|William Forman, Merion Golf Club||80|
|J.P. Hoban, McCall Golf Club||80|
|Alex Nemo, Merion Golf Club||80|
|Carson Thompson, Laurel Creek Country Club||80|
|Jack Davis, Aronimink Golf Club||81|
|Nathan Guertler, Merion Golf Club||81|
|Kasim Narinesingh-Smith, Radley Run Country Club||81|
|Joe Ciconte, Wilmington Country Club||82|
|Nolan Corcoran, Philadelphia Junior Tour||82|
|Adam Fluehr, North Hills Country Club||82|
|Frank Boensch, Steel Club||83|
|Jake Bryson, DuPont Country Club||83|
|Joe Kriz, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club||83|
|Liam McFadden, Overbrook Golf Club||83|
|Harrison Brown, Philadelphia Country Club||84|
|Will Dunsmore, Talamore Country Club||84|
|Sean Kelly, Bucknell Golf Club||84|
|Jeffrey Seiler, Indian Valley Country Club||84|
|Sam Houchen, GAP Youth on Course||85|
|Paul Reilly, Galloway National Golf Club||85|
|Nick Linkchorst, Golf Course at Glen Mills||86|
|Benjamin Saggers, Applecross Country Club||86|
|Will Walsh, Philadelphia Country Club||86|
|Jack Dare, Riverton Country Club||87|
|Bo Meakim, USGA/GAP GC||88|
|Zach Moua, St. Davids Golf Club||88|
|Quin Bongiovanni, Paxon Hollow Country Club||89|
|Anthony Carson, GAP Youth on Course||89|
|Charlie Houchen, GAP Youth on Course||89|
|Matthew Buckley, Rolling Green Golf Club||90|
|Dylan Henry, Talamore Country Club||90|
|Anthony Tedeschi, Little Mill Country Club||91|
|Reid Walker, Riverton Country Club||91|
|Ben Bodle, The 1912 Club||92|
|Jack O’Connor, Bellewood Country Club||101|
|Brendan Leary, USGA/GAP GC||NS|
|James Barton, GAP Youth on Course||WD|
|Owen Wisner, Reading Country Club||WD|
|Matthew Zerfass, Brookside CC of Allentown||WD|
|Junior-Junior Boys’ Division|
|*Gregory Kriz, Manufacturers’ Golf & Country Club||45|
|Henry Sokol, Green Valley Country Club||45|
|Jack Sokol, Green Valley Country Club||47|
|Cole Berry, Overbrook Golf Club||48|
|Logan Nye, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club||WD|
|Junior Girls’ Division|
|Silvana Gonzalez, Applecross Country Club||83|
|Gabi Courtney, Sunnybrook Golf Club||89|
|* – won in playoff|
|NS – no show; WD – withdrawal|