Walk-off Homer: #GAPJrJr crown captured on Flourtown’s final hole
FLOURTOWN, Pa. – A brotherly bout in the Quarterfinals of last year’s GAP Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship brought an end to Jack Homer’s championship aspirations. This year, however, with the field free of any sibling challengers, the Wilmington Country Club member accomplished something neither of his twin brothers were ever able to achieve.
On Wednesday, Homer completed a week full of comebacks with his most momentous effort of all. The 12-year-old defeated Merion Golf Club’s Sean Curran, Jr., 1 up, in the 18-hole Final, part of the GAP Junior Series presented by Citadel, at Flourtown Country Club (par 70, 5294 yards). Homer’s 14-year-old twin brothers, Matthew and Jeffery, were not eligible for the competition, having surpassed the upper boundary of the tournament’s age restriction.
“[This] will give me a nice feeling when I walk into the house,” said Homer, who last year lost to Matthew, the event’s eventual runner-up.
Indeed, the jubilant Homer has plenty to be proud of. The Wilmington, Del. resident faced seemingly insurmountable deficits for much of the week, demonstrating apt resilience to emerge victorious in the end.
During Wednesday’s Final, Homer found himself 3-down to Curran on two separate occasions. With Homer lipping out putts on five of the match’s first six holes, Curran built a significant early advantage.
Then came Homer’s favorite stretch of the golf course. The incoming eighth grader at The Tatnall School reeled off three straight wins on Nos. 7-9, a feat he also managed to achieve in his quarterfinal matchup against Talamore Country Club’s Kyle Spirt.
“I played those holes well all week,” Homer said. “That [stretch] was big for me because I was thinking on hole 10, ‘I have all the momentum, let’s try to finish the job’”.
Such ambitions proved more difficult to capture than Homer had hoped. Curran’s putting prowess helped the 11-year-old youngster to claim an advantage once again. A par on No. 10 (par 4, 368 yards) began the second lap for Curran around Flourtown’s nine-hole track. A bogey from Homer allowed Curran to regain a 1-up lead, a margin he would widen with consecutive birdies on Nos. 11 (par 5, 442 yards) and 12 (par 3, 125 yards).
Just like that, Homer found himself in a hole that was all too familiar.
“That was frustrating for me,” Homer said. “Sean was making putts left and right and I can’t control him. He just played really well on those three holes.”
A match full of turns took another detour as the players headed to No. 13 (par 4, 225 yards). In need of a spark, Homer got the boost that was required, converting an up-and-down birdie of his own from the rough left of the green.
Homer proceeded to win the ensuing three holes as well, as Curran struggled to find the fairway off the tee.
With Homer leading for the first time all day, both players hit the putting surface on No. 17 (par 3, 120 yards). It was there that the excitement really began to build, as Curran squared the match with a 12-footer for birdie and a fist-pump to boot.
The back and forth affair arrived at No. 18 (par 4, 328 yards) with the two skillful youths level on the scorecard. Curran, playing first, found trouble off the tee in the right trees while Homer hit the fairway. Curran was unable to reach the green as his second shot rattled around the tree branches, setting the stage for the match’s decisive shot.
Homer, who had stuffed a pitching wedge close on the same hole on the match’s first nine, used gap wedge this go around, but registered a similar result. The ball bounced once short of the green and rolled out to a mere four feet. When Curran was unable to get up-and-down from his third shot in the fairway, two putts were all that was needed for the lengthy-lefty to claim victory. A tap-in par sealed the result – Homer was the winner of the 71st GAP Junior-Junior.
With his triumph this week, Homer becomes the first player to win both the Junior-Junior crown and Junior-Junior Boys’ Jock Mackenzie title since Colman Mitchell did so in 2013 while also representing Wilmington Country Club.
“I feel really good about how I’m playing this summer,” Homer said. “I’ve shot a lot of good scores. I like winning these GAP events because you get a little bit more reward and I like the interviews.”
Indeed, Homer got his interview, and a gold medallion to go with it. Next on the schedule is a subregional Drive Chip & Putt Qualifier at Aronimink Golf Club Aug. 12.
For the runner-up, plans are in place for a Junior-Junior return next season. As an 11-year-old, Curran has two years of eligibility in the event remaining.
“I played great,” Curran said. “I played some great players. The last match we both played great, but he just played better.”
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.
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