Homer, Saggers advance to 70th #GAPJrJr Final at Merchantville - The Golf Association of Philadelphia

Jul 31, 2018

Homer, Saggers advance to 70th #GAPJrJr Final at Merchantville

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Juniors, News, Tournaments


July 31, 2018

CHERRY HILL, N.J. – Winning is never easy. Especially when you have to beat your brother.

Scoring Portal | History | Recap: Day 1 | Photos: Day 1 |
  Wilmington Country Club’s Matthew Homer had to survive a late rally from his brother Jack to punch his ticket to the #GAPJrJr semifinals at Merchantville Country Club (par 36, 2,684 yards) with a 1-up victory. In doing so, he gained a berth in Wednesday’s 18-hole Final vs. Applecross Country Club’s Benjamin Saggers.

Tomorrow’s Final, the 70th in the history of the championship, begins at 7:30 a.m.

“I was very nervous playing my brother this morning because I didn’t want to lose to him,” said Homer, 13, of Wilmington, Del. “After I got to 3-up, Jack continued his steady play. I was all over the place and I doubled No. 6 with a four-putt and shanked my tee shot on No. 7. I played Nos. 6-8 very poorly. I putted terribly but with a clutch par on No. 9, I was able to escape and get the victory.”

On No. 9 (par 4, 342 yards), Homer hit his drive into the left rough but drew a good lie. He then hit an 8-iron from 145 yards to 35 feet and two-putted for the victory.

Homer then defeated Aronimink Golf Club’s Nicholas Ciocca, 3&2, in the semifinals to secure a spot in the Final. He used a clutch shot on No. 2 (par 5, 453 yards) to take control of the match.

“No. 2 was the turning point in the match against Nick I felt,” said Homer, an incoming eighth grader at the Tatnall School. “I popped up my drive in the left rough and slung a hybrid on the green from 240 yards out. I was able to use the slope on the left side to bring it to 20 feet and I two-putted from there. That was a good start.”

The match ended on No. 7 (par 4, 260 yards) after Ciocca three-putted for 6 and Homer made 5.

Last year’s First Flight champion at Phoenixville now has a chance to win the Championship title.

“It means a lot to me to make it into the Junior-Junior Final,” said Homer. “I didn’t play nearly as well as I did yesterday. I was still able to fight my way through it and now I am in the championship, which is great.”

Homer smiled at the thought of thinking about his mentor in the game, Tom Ciconte, his grandfather, and the family that has supported him thus far.

“My grandfather called me this morning and told me to go out and win and to keep doing what I am doing,” said Homer. “He’s meant so much to me. He taught me how to play the game and how to act. He is a huge part of why I am here in this position right now.”

Saggers seeks redemption

This edition of the Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship is eerily similar to Saggers’ journey at last year’s tournament.

After getting through the first two matches each of the last two years, Saggers found himself up against Bidermann Golf Club’s Henry Stone in the semifinals.

Just like last year, Saggers outlasted Stone in the semifinals to claim his spot in the Junior-Junior Boys’ Final, 2-up. He defeated Stone, 2&1, last year.

Saggers defeated Wilmington Country Club’s Jeffrey Homer, 2&1, in the quarterfinals.

“It feels pretty good to get back to the championship in this event,” said Saggers, 13, of West Chester, Pa. “Even though there were fewer kids this year, I felt the competition was better. It is nice because I haven’t had the best year. But to play well at a tournament is always a good feeling.”

Saggers lost to Lu Lu Country Club’s Josh Ryan, 2&1, in last year’s Final at Phoenixville.

“As I continue to play in more Junior tournaments, my ability to deal with pressure has improved,” said Saggers. “I am really calm on the golf course now. Being calm helps me focus and avoid any added pressure.”

The key for Saggers against Stone was his newly-found confidence in his putter after struggling with it for the majority of the season.

“I got a new putter about three weeks ago,” said Saggers. “I wasn’t putting well at all with my old putter and making putts. I didn’t like the look of it. I made a lot of clutch putts to win or halve the holes. I felt like today I broke in my putter.”

The 2018 Pennsylvania Golf Association Junior-Junior Champion said he made a lot of clutch five-footers to halve or win holes against Stone.

He rolled in a 12-footer for birdie on No. 3 (par 3, 122 yards) and a 20-footer for birdie on No. 5 (par 4, 278 yards), each to win the hole. It’s safe to say his mojo has returned with the flatstick.

Saggers has a simple plan to prepare for tomorrow.

“I’m going to take a nap,” said Saggers, a rising eighth grader at Saint Phillip James School. “I usually don’t wake up early.”

Surely, he’ll rise Wednesday morning for a chance to avenge his loss in last year’s event.

Saggers and Homer will face off tomorrow at 7:30 a.m for the Championship Flight title. In the First Flight, Bellewood Country Club’s Kidder Urban will play RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve’s Matthew Homer at 7:45 a.m. starting on No. 1. Both will be 18-hole matches.

Now in its 70th year, the Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship is open to players from Member Clubs who are 10 to 13 years of age.

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Championship Flight

1. Matthew Homer, Wilmington CC d. 4. Nicholas Ciocca, Aronimink GC, 3&2.
6. Ben Saggers, Applecross CC d. 10. Henry Stone, Bidermann GC, 2 up.

1. Matthew Homer, Wilmington CC d. 9. Jack Homer, Wilmington CC, 1-up.
4. Nicholas Ciocca, Aronimink GC d. 5. Lucas Steinmetz, Spring Ford CC, 2&1.
10. Henry Stone, Bidermann GC d. 2. Win Thomas, GAP Youth on Course, 2&1.
6. Ben Saggers, Applecross CC d. 3. Jeffrey Homer, Wilmington CC, 2&1.


5. Kidder Urban, Bellewood CC d. 8. Evan Hawkes, Makefield Highlands GC, 3&2.
2. Ben Rubinich, RiverCrest GC & Preserve d. 3. Stephen Foley, Jr., Riverton CC, 2&1.

8. Evan Hawkes, Makefield Highlands GC d. 1. Zach Moua, St. Davids GC, 4&3.
5. Kidder Urban, Bellewood CC d. 4. Kasim Narinesingh-Smith, Radley Run CC, 1-up.
2. Ben Rubinich, RiverCrest GC & Preserve d. 7. Liam McFadden, Overbrook GC, 5&4.
3. Stephen Foley, Jr., Riverton CC d. 6. Reid Walker, Riverton CC, 10 holes.

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