VILLANOVA, Pa. – Laurel Creek Country Club’s Matthew Normand, the lefty, gets it done.
Normand defeated Spring Mill Country Club’s Corey Haydu in a 20 holes to secure the First Flight title of the Junior Boys’ First Championship on Wednesday at Overbrook Golf Club (par 70, 6,523 yards).
Normand’s clutch 20-foot birdie putt on No. 19 (No. 1, par 4, 382 yards) saved the match before taking the next hole and the victory.
“That was the biggest game-changer for me, making that putt. Because if I had missed it, I would’ve been eliminated,” Normand, 16, of Lumberton Township, N.J., and a junior at Rancocas Valley Regional High School, said. “I was just focused on trying to hit good drives, making some putts, and everything worked out in the end.”
The third time’s the charm for Normand, after coming up short in the past two Junior Boys’. He failed to make match play in either of the prior two years.
“I’ve been with GAP for six or seven years now, and this has been my most memorable moment so far,” Normand said. “It was also my first time playing at Overbrook; I loved everything about it, the conditions were great, and it was an excellent experience.
“It was actually a pretty stressful week, but it feels good to come out with a win. It will give me the confidence to do a little better in future events.”
As for Haydu, he finished runner-up in the Championship Flight to Josh Ryan in 2020. Ryan, of The 1912 Club, won his second consecutive title this year.
“It was a different atmosphere from playing in the Championship Bracket last year to playing in the First Flight Bracket this year,” Haydu, 18, of Doylestown, Pa., and a recent graduate of La Salle College High School, said. “I was hoping to play in the Championship Flight again this year but had a tough round on the first day [Stroke-Play Qualfying].”
Haydu was under pressure all week. Three of his four matches went extra holes. The only one that didn’t was his semifinal contest against Country Club of Scranton’s Thomas Lynch. And that went to the 18th hole. Haydu won 1-up.
“It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions for sure,” Haydu added. “I don’t think there’s much to take away from this loss because I only had a few shots that didn’t go my way.”
This fall, Haydu will continue his golf career at Gettysburg College.
“I’m excited to play golf there, and they also have great academics,” Haydu said. “It’s going to be fun competing with everyone when I get out there.”
Medford Lakes’ Tarzy makes a splashy debut
It’s wasn’t too shabby of a Junior Boys’ debut for Medford Lakes Country Club’s Jack Tarzy. Tarzy finished as a semifinalist in the Junior Boys’ Championship Flight Wednesday before bowing out to eventual runner-up Morgan Lofland of Phoenixville Country Club.
“This was my first match-play tournament, and I’m happy I made it as far as I did,” Tarzy, 17, of Medford, N.J., said. “The atmosphere was incredible; we had our names out on the range, had someone walking with me to keep my score and it was something I had never experienced before.”
Tarzy advanced following a 2&1 win over Jackson Debusschere of The Springhaven Club in the quarterfinals Tuesday. A birdie on No. 13 (par 4, 364 yards) allowed Tarzy to move ahead of Debusschere for good. He hit a gap wedge 117 yards to an inch for a concession and never looked back.
“This was my first time playing at Overbrook, the greens were perfect, and it has been one of my favorite courses so far,” Tarzy, a senior at The Hun School of Princeton, said.
He’s looking at Bucknell University, Davidson College, Furman University, Lafayette College and the University of Richmond, amongst others as possible college choices.
Tarzy isn’t the lone South Jersey Junior to make waves in GAP the last couple weeks. He regularly sees and speaks with #BMWPhillyAm finalist Jack Irons, 19, on the range at Medford Lakes.
“It’s pretty neat to be around Jack, I see him there all the time, and he’s a great player,” Tarzy said. “I’ve been playing out of Medford Lakes for a few years now because I wanted to be more serious with my play, and I believe that being there has elevated my game tremendously.
“It’s golf; you’re going to have some bad days, but you have to roll with them and keep going forward. I’m looking forward to playing in more GAP events shortly, including the GAP Open.”
The 117th Open Championship is set for July 13-14 at the Country Club of York.