Blazing back-nine boosts Glenmaura’s Evans
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MOOSIC, Pa. — There aren’t any pictures on the scorecard, as the old adage goes. Sometimes, however, the numbers alone on the card tell a captivating story.
Such was the case on Thursday for Glenmaura National Golf Club’s Eamon Evans, whose anomalous round of golf in the re-scheduled AGA/GAP Spring Stoke Play could form the foundation for a Hollywood blockbuster.
Evans, who works as a sales manager at Agilent Technologies, recovered from bogeys on the day’s opening four holes with a 6-under inward nine. His surreal and splendorous display on the back-nine of his home course (par 71, 6328 yards), allowed Evans to capture the Open Division title with a 1-under-par 70. Fox Hill Country Club’s A.J. Donatoni placed second at 71.
“it was interesting,” Evans, 35, of Clarks Summit, Pa., said. “It was not how I drew it up. I thought I had no chance coming off No. 9 (par 3, 167 yards) green. I was just trying not to embarrass myself.”
With a 40 on the opening nine, Evans’ hopes of breaking out of his summer slump appeared to be fading. His early frustration was punctuated when his pitching wedge sailed out of bounds on No. 9, where Evans simply, “stuck the club in the ground.” What followed, however, was not the embarrassment that he had feared, but a stretch of golf that most who play the game can only fantasize about.
“It was very surprising,” Evans, who led the field with seven total birdies, said. “I have not been playing good golf recently. I never thought I’d rattle off a 30 on the back [nine]. To come from behind and win is more exciting because you don’t really expect it. All of a sudden I’m like, ‘I may have a shot here.’”
Evans’ shot was the inevitable result of an abundance of quality golf shots. A trusty 2-iron off the tee, along with lethal wedge play, fueled Evans’ six birdies on the back nine’s first seven holes.
Things began to heat up with the round’s “turning point” on No. 10 (par 5, 514 yards), where Evans jarred a six-foot birdie putt after running his 20-footer for eagle past the hole.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘How can you put yourself in this situation?’,” Evans said. “[When I made the birdie putt] I was like ‘OK, you didn’t blow this one.’”
Evans didn’t fumble on the following two holes either. He picked up a pair of birdies on Nos. 11-12 before recording rare par on the par 4, 13th hole (355 yards). Such mediocrity, however, merely preluded a string of three straight birdies. On No. 14 (par 5, 543 yards), Evans took lob wedge from 100 yards and proceeded to stuff the shot to five feet. After rolling in the resulting putt, Evans sunk his longest birdie of the day on No. 15 (par 3, 167 yards), canning a 30-footer. The sublime ball-striking continued on No. 16 (par 4, 412 yards), where Evans’ pitching wedge from 150 yards stopped seven feet from the hole. Despite a suddenly elevated heart rate, he again dropped the birdie putt.
Pars on his last two holes of the day meant the ever-mystical 29 would escape Evans. What would not allude him, however, was his first individual victory since rekindling his love for the game eight years ago. Thursday’s hardware now joins a pair of Ben Marshall Four-Ball triumphs for Evans, who teamed with Michael Bonavoglia, in 2017-18.
Evans was not the only player to notch a win on Thursday. In the tournament’s Senior Division, Robert Andrejko of Scranton Municipal Golf Course and Michael Vassil of the Country Club of Scranton tied for first with matching rounds of 73.
Meanwhile, Nittany Country Club’s Vincent Scarpetta Jr. posted the round of the day in the Super-Senior Division with a 1-under-par 70.
The 11th AGA/GAP Spring Stroke Play was played in July after weather forced the event’s postponement on June 14.
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 274 Full 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.