Maslanka, Powell claim titles in Junior TOC
Michael Maslanka is only 14 years old, but he’s got a dream of playing in a PGA TOUR event one day. But for at least this week, it’s his newest trophy that he’ll be dreaming of.
Maslanka, a Country Club of Scranton member, took home the Boys’ Division title in the AGA/GAP Lawler Junior Tour Series Tournament of Champions Tuesday at Huntsville Golf Club (par 72, 6,298 yards). His 1-under round of 71 — the championship’s only red figure — paired with Maslanka’s 3-over 74 Monday at Fox Hill Country Club earned him the coveted hardware. He inched out Elmhurst Country Club’s Billy Pabst by one stroke for the victory.
Entering Day Two, the eventual champion sat two strokes back of the leader and club mate James Flickinger, who finished at 1 over.
“Yesterday at Fox Hill, I played really well and I still had a lot of confidnece, but I bogeyed the last three holes in a row. I made a bunch of birdies, and I knew if I hit the same the same today as I did yesterday, I’d have a chance to win.”
Tuesday at Huntsville, Maslanka’s day began with a statement-making pair of birdies. On No. 1 (par 5, 482 yards), a perfect drive left him just 190 yards out with 4-iron in hand. That approach rolled within 20 feet, and a two putt-birdie followed suit. Then on No. 2 (par 4, 329 yards), a 3-wood off the tee led to a pitching wedge approach from 128 yards out. Maslanka’s shot landed 15 feet behind the hole, and he stepped up and drained it.
Finishing the front side at 1 under, Maslanka knew what he had to do in order to finish the job.
“I knew as long as I didn’t hit any errors — I think I missed one green on the front — then I’d have a chance to win. I didn’t know exactly where I stood, but I knew I just had to play solid golf,” said Maslanka, a rising freshman at Riverside High School.
A birdie on No. 13 (par 4, 385 yards) would propel him to the winner’s circle. After his “best drive of the day”, a chip was all that was needed from 56 yards out. He rolled a gap wedge up and tapped in from two feet. Despite a bogey on Huntsville’s finisher, No. 18 (par 4, 409 yards), his 1-under round was good enough for the one-stroke victory.
“It means the world to me. I’m still only 14 years old and to take home the AGA title, that’s huge for the 2020 season.”
“It means the world to me. I’m still only 14 years old and to take home the AGA title, that’s huge for the 2020 season,” said Maslanka, of Taylor, Pa.
Today’s win helped Maslanka realize what it takes to win. He’s proven he has that in his arsenal now. It also shows progress toward a goal of one day playing collegiate golf, and then in the future, playing in a PGA TOUR event.
“I definitely want to play college golf, and the ultimate goal, is to have a chance at playing in a PGA TOUR event, and that’s my ultimate dream, ” said Maslanka. “Winning today gives me a lot more confidence, knowing that I can play well and win. Having that confidence makes the game a lot easier because you’re not overthinking things.”
In the Girls’ Division, Gwendolyn Powell of Elmhurst Country Club powered her way to a wire-to-wire win.
After holding the overnight lead thanks to a 5-over 78 at Fox Hill, Powell followed that performance up with a 13-over 85 Tuesday at Huntsville. Her 18-over 163 overall score resulted in the Girls’ Division hardware. She defeated a talented five-player field for the trophy, bettering runner-up finisher Chloe Sipe of The Montrose Club by four strokes.
Powell’s jarred birdies on No. 18, in both rounds, were the finishes she needed. Her seven-foot putt on Huntsville’s finisher (par 4, 344 yards) ultimately sealed the deal.
“I just stuck with my game. But when I made the birdie on 18, it felt great because I know I had won.”
“At Huntsville, I had a rough start on the front, so I got a little nervous. I made an 8 on No. 16 [par 4, 330 yards], but I knew I still had the lead,” said Powell, 14, of Madison Township, Pa. “I just stuck with my game. But when I made the birdie on 18, it felt great because I know I had won.”
A steady commitment to practicing in the past few weeks paid off in a big way this week for Powell. Her TOC victory added to Powell’s Anthracite prowess, as she also won the event in 2018. Additionally, she earned a runner-up finish in last year’s championship.
“I’ve been hitting balls and just practicing for hours this summer. I’m really happy that I was able to win [this week],” said the champion.
Launched in 1999, the AGA/GAP Lawler Junior Tour Series Tournament of Champions is a two-day, 36-hole stroke play event. Winners of a Lawler Junior Tour Series event, in addition to those who ranked high in scoring average/finish, make up the field.
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.