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22nd Christman Cup

GAP odyssey yields gold for Wilmington’s Homer

MALVERN, Pa. — In Jeffrey Homer’s case, a loss didn’t do what a loss often does.

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Two weeks ago, he suffered a wrenching 1-up defeat at the hands of Morgan Lofland in the quarterfinals of the 107th Junior Boys’ Championship. Homer, however, didn’t feel dejected. He felt motivated, reassured by the promise of a better outcome.

That outcome came Wednesday. Homer, a Wilmington Country Club member, carded a 1-under-par 139 to capture the 22nd Christman Cup at a sweltering Chester Valley Golf Club (par 70, 6,284 yards).

Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s Patrick Isztwan, the tournament’s defending champion, and GAP Youth on Course member Thomas Larkin tied for second at 3-over-par 143. The Christman Cup is a 36-hole, walking-only event.

“I knew before that I was capable [of winning] after my play in the Junior Boys’ Championship. I came out today and was confident. I got the job done,” Homer, 16, of Wilmington, Del., said. “All of the pieces connected. It feels awesome to win a big tournament like this.”

Homer, Loch Nairn Golf Club’s Evan Barbin and The Springhaven Club’s Ryan McCabe shared the event’s 18-hole lead at 2-over-par 72. Oppressive heat, coupled with the demands of Chester Valley’s hilly terrain, tested willpower and resolve. The field scoring average after Round One boomed to 79.2.

Homer surprisingly strayed from the championship conversation early. Traversing Chester Valley for the first time Wednesday, he admittedly struggled to find his footing.

“I was kind of fidgety with my putting stroke and my golf swing. Then I made a 10-foot par putt on No. 6, and that kind of got me going a little bit,” Homer, a rising junior at The Tatnall School, said. “I kept building off of that stroke and kept holing a bunch of putts throughout the day. When I hit good shots, I converted them for birdies.”

“I came out today and was confident. I got the job done.”

Jeffrey Homer

Two of those birdies elevated Homer into the co-leader chair: an up-and-in on the par 5, 465-yard 14th hole, and a seven-footer on the par 3, 180-yard 15th hole following a crisp 7-iron.

“I knew I was on a hot streak. I knew I was playing well. I knew I was in a good spot,” Homer said.

A great spot as Round Two progressed. Homer posted the day’s lone subpar score — a 3-under-par 67 — in the afternoon. The heat and hills weathered and weakened. Homer never flinched.

“I stayed hydrated and energized the whole day. I stayed in the present,” he said. “It’s a long day. Don’t give up. It doesn’t matter where you are [on the leaderboard]. There is so much golf today.”

Starting on the back nine, Homer separated from a crowded pack thanks to a trio of birdies. Credit caddie and cousin Tommy Ciconte here. Ciconte sold Homer on a 7-iron on No. 10 (par 3, 177 yards). He knocked it to 15 feet for birdie. After a consultation on No. 12 (par 4, 401 yards), player and caddie agreed on a pitching wedge from 111 yards. Homer, using the green’s slope to his advantage, peeled it back to five feet. On No. 16 (par 4, 404 yards), one of his “best drives of the day” resulted in a sand wedge from 98 yards to three feet for birdie.

Homer, with a bogey-free 32 heading out, held a three-shot lead. The par 4, 401-yard No. 6, Chester Valley’s most difficult on this day with a 4.74 scoring average, proved pivotal. Nerves, like Bryce Harper’s bat, thumped Homer. Playing in the same group, Isztwan, like a raucous crowd at Citzens Bank Park, applied pressure. He drilled an 8-iron 158 yards to 30 feet above the flagstick. Homer, meanwhile, missed the green left and watched his chip release six feet past the hole. Isztwan closed to within two strokes of Homer after burying his birdie putt.

“I get back there, and my caddie, Jake Fazio, said, ‘I have a great read on this one.’ I hit it right where he wanted me to hit it, and it went in,” Isztwan, 18, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said.

Homer, too, answered the call. He converted a six-footer to save par. Homer all but closed his Christman case on the next hole (par 3, 158 yards). In between clubs yet again, a convincing Ciconte sold pitching wedge. Homer struck it beautifully, leaving his golf ball six feet from the hole location. He cleaned up the birdie putt.

“I was going to need help from Jeff. I needed one wayward swing, and I didn’t get it from him,” Isztwan, who will attend Richmond University in the fall, said. “Jeff putted great in the afternoon. He was lights out.”

Overall, Homer totaled 27 putts in Round Two.

“My putter saved me big time. That was everything to me today,” he said.

A coveted GAP trophy means everything to Homer, too.

“Without a doubt. This is my biggest win, 100 percent,” he said.

By virtue of his performance Wednesday, Homer vaulted to the top of the Harry Hammond Award standings. He leads Elmhurst Country Club’s Billy Pabst by five strokes entering the final leg. The Harry Hammond Award is comprised of Junior Boys’ Championship Qualifying, Christman Cup and Jock MacKenzie Memorial, set for July 19 at Sandy Run Country Club.

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 Philadelphia Golfer. Christman died on Sept. 14, 2019 at the age of 86.

GAP
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 300 Member Clubs and 80,000 individual members are spread across the Eastern half of Pennsylvania and parts of Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. The GAP’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Results
Name, clubRd1-Rd2–Total
Jeffrey Homer, Wilmington Country Club72-67–139
Patrick Isztwan, Huntingdon Valley Country Club73-70–143
Thomas Larkin, GAP Youth on Course73-70–143
Anthony Ciconte, Wilmington Country Club73-71–144
William Pabst, Elmhurst Country Club74-70–144
Shane Lawler, Chester Valley Golf Club73-73–146
Ryan McCabe, The Springhaven Club72-75–147
Ryan D’Ariano, Penn Oaks Golf Club73-75–148
Jackson Debusschere, The Springhaven Club75-73–148
Jake Maddaloni, Aronimink Golf Club74-74–148
Evan Barbin, Loch Nairn Golf Club72-77–149
Scott Hughes, Cedarbrook Country Club74-76–150
Jack Homer, Wilmington Country Club75-76–151
Darren Nolan, Cedarbrook Country Club76-75–151
Mario Ventresca, Cedarbrook Country Club76-75–151
Michael Fioravante, LedgeRock Golf Club75-77–152
Matthew Homer, Wilmington Country Club77-76–153
James Gradisek, Philadelphia Country Club73-81–154
Logan Wagner, Meadia Heights Golf Club76-78–154
Eric Fryer, Commonwealth National Golf Club82-74–156
Matthew Normand, Laurel Creek Country Club77-79–156
Stephen Butler, Indian Valley Country Club77-80–157
Luke Corcoran, Cedarbrook Country Club75-82–157
Will Huntley, Blue Bell Country Club77-81–158
Elijah Ruppert, Golden Oaks Golf Club77-81–158
Carson Thompson, Laurel Creek Country Club80-78–158
Luke Watson, RiverCrest GC & Preserve83-75–158
Reilly Shaffer, Llanerch Country Club80-82–162
Lucas Steinmetz, Spring Ford Country Club82-80–162
Christian Deussing, Jericho National Golf Club87-78–165
Anthony Carson, GAP Youth on Course78-88–166
Andrew Ranaudo, Chester Valley Golf Club84-84–168
Bryce Fazio, Huntingdon Valley Country Club85-84–169
Ben Pintof, GAP Youth on Course85-85–170
Nicky Riscica, Trenton Country Club83-87–170
Nathan Jones, The 1912 Club85-86–171
Kevin Deng, Radnor Valley Country Club84-88–172
J.P. Hoban, McCall Golf Club85-89–174
Matthew Dietl, GAP Youth on Course88-90–178
Charlie Ferrise, RiverCrest GC & Preserve92-90–182
John Curran, Chester Valley Golf Club90-97–187
Christian Matt, Cedarbrook Country Club78-WD–WD
Keller Mulhern, Whitford Country Club83-WD–WD
Connor Toussaint, North Hills Country Club85-WD–WD
James Ulsh, Carlisle Country Club96-WD–WD
Roy Anderson, Kennett Square Golf & Country Club83-WD–WD
Quinn Hamilton, Country Club of ScrantonNS
Kevin Lydon, Commonwealth National Golf ClubNS
NS – no show; WD – withdrawal