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#GAPJrJr: Day One

Wilmington’s Homer soars to top seed

WEST CHESTER, Pa. — As he affirmed a 4-under-par 32 Monday, Jack Homer slyly slid on shades a la Maverick from the film “Top Gun.”

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Fitting since Homer solidified his status as top gun of the 72nd Junior-Junior-Boys’ Championship at West Chester Golf & Country Club (par 36, 2,456 yards). He earned the tournament’s No. 1 seed by carding the lone subpar score in stroke-play qualifying.

Homer, who can also be considered “top gun” by virtue of his defending champion moniker, will face Evan Hawkes of Yardley Country Club when the Round of 16 begins tomorrow at 8 a.m.

“It all starts with qualifying. I can’t let that get past me,” Homer, 13, of Wilmington, Del., said. “I did a good job of that today.”

A great job is more accurate.

Homer, a lanky lefty with a length advantage, capitalized on West Chester’s par 5s. Despite feeling “a little nervous” on the first tee, he launched a drive that settled in a divot. Unfazed by the unfortunate circumstance, Homer lifted a gap wedge 110 yards to 15 feet and two putted for birdie.

“That kind of rattled me a little, but I handled it nicely,” he said of his approach shot.

The par 5, 376-yard No. 2 nearly rattled Homer as well. But before addressing an entirely blind approach, the rising eighth grader at The Tatnall School walked nearly 100 yards uphill for further examination. Ample green and a back-middle hole location noted. Homer then returned to his golf ball, knocked a 9-iron 134 yards to 30 feet below the flagstick and again two putted for birdie. The dogleg right, 400-yard No. 8 (par 5) told a somewhat similar story. Homer hit a pitching wedge 133 yards to 30 feet and watched the ensuing eagle attempt stop in the heart. He executed a left-to-right breaking six-footer for birdie.

In addition to red ink on the par 5s, Homer birdied the downhill par 3, 110-yard No. 3 after smoothing a gap wedge to 16 feet. Another par 3 — the 128-yard No. 9 — almost prevented a bogey-free effort. “Rangefinder died,” Homer declared as he set foot on the tee. A couple of smacks to the device did the trick — sort of. Debating between yardages of 115 or 126, Homer selected pitching wedge and left it on the back-right fringe — some 40 feet from the hole location. He curled in a four-foot comebacker to save par.

“I was very happy I made that,” Homer said.

Homer is looking to become the sixth player to capture consecutive Junior-Junior Boys’ titles.

“I hit it very well today. I don’t think I missed a green in regulation. I got a feel for the elevation and the blind shots, so I now I kind of know what not to do,” he said. “I’m going to need to birdie Nos. 1 and 2 again. I’ll be alright.”

And for those wondering if Homer’s ever seen the 1986 blockbuster film starring Tom Cruise as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell …

“Yes, I have,” he said. “I was thinking about that [as I put the sunglasses on]. The sun isn’t out as much [in the morning]. Plus, I was going to hang around for a little, so I might as well toss them on.”

The Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship is open to players from Member Clubs who are 10 to 13 years of age.

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 288 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.

Qualifiers
Name, clubScore
Jack Homer, Wilmington Country Club32
Mark Heinz, Huntingdon Valley Country Club37
Fletcher Jones, Wilmington Country Club37
Nick Werner, Wyoming Valley Country Club37
Brady Crow, Moorestown Field Club40
J.P. Hoban, McCall Golf Club40
Nick Linkchorst, Golf Course at Glen Mills40
Paul Reilly, Hidden Creek Golf Club40
Sean Curran, Merion Golf Club41
Evan Gross, Applecross Country Club41
Zach Moua, St. Davids Golf Club41
Ian Larsen, Honeybrook Golf Club42
Jackson Puskar, Kennett Square G&CC43
Devin Carpenter, GAP Youth on Course44
Liam McFadden, Overbrook Golf Club44
Evan Hawkes, Yardley Country Club44
Failed to qualify
Luka Fediukov, Phoenixville Country Club45
Jack O’Connor, Bellewood Country Club45
Patrick McNerney, GAP Youth on Course50
Gavin Toto, Radley Run Country ClubWD
WD — withdrawal