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#GAPJrJr: Top-seeded Ryan, No. 15 seed Saggers advance to Final

PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. — Josh Ryan heard his playing competitor and close friend, Evan Barbin tell him that his six-footer for bogey on No. 5 was “good.”

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  Instead of picking up his mark and moving to the next tee, Ryan questioned his friend of four years and said, “Are you sure?”

Barbin was taken back by the response and the two went back and forth about their scores. Ryan explained that Barbin could still halve the hole if he made his putt for seven and Ryan missed his putt for six.

A great class of sportsmanship that sometimes gets overlooked.

“I wasn’t sure if Evan knew what we each were hitting for,” Ryan said. “He was putting off of the fringe for seven and I had a putt for six and if he made his putt and I missed mine, we would have halved the hole. If I was in that scenario, I would have wanted my opponent to tell me what was going on.”

Ryan, of Lu Lu Country Club, outlasted Barbin, of the GAP Junior Players Club, in 10 holes to secure his first Finals appearance in the Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship Tuesday at Phoenixville Country Club (par 35, 2,600 yards).

Ryan defeated Blue Bell Country Club’s Kevin Lafond, 4&3 in the quarterfinals to gain his spot in the semifinals.

Ryan and Barbin each struggled in the match but Barbin would get the match to all square after losing Nos. 4 and 5, with a 1-under-par stretch on Nos. 6 and 7.

Ryan, 13, just returned from the U.S. Kids Teen World Championships at Pinehurst and has spent time competing on the national stage. But the Norristown, Pa. native said he feels no nerves at all anymore when he plays golf.

“Playing on a national level offers a little bit bigger of a stage than some local events but they are about the same,” Ryan, who will be a home-schooled ninth grader at the Commonwealth Connections Academy, said. “You want to play your best regardless of the magnitude of the event. I don’t get nervous anymore because if you don’t play well it is fine and you try to do better the next time you tee it up. When you are nervous you don’t play as well so I just try and focus on each and every shot.”

Saggers pulls off upset

Ben Saggers’ favorite hobby outside of golf is playing video games.

His favorite video game is Rory McIlroy PGA Tour where you can play with the world’s best golfers and crush drives right down the middle with no effort or thought.

Saggers, of West Chester, Pa., translated the video game numbers he puts up with current World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, to his golf game in defeating Brookside Country Club of Allentown’s Matthew Zerfass, 1-up, in the quarterfinals and Bidermann Golf Club’s Henry Stone, 2&1, in the semifinals to punch his ticket to the final level of the game.

After earning his spot as the No. 15 seed in the Championship Flight, Saggers didn’t think he would make it past the first stage of match play.

“All I wanted to do was get into the Championship Flight bracket by posting a good qualifying score,” Saggers, an incoming seventh grader at Saint Phillip James School, said. “I didn’t play all that well in the stroke play portion but I have picked it up in the match play portion as my knowledge of the course has gotten better. I wasn’t expecting to win any of my matches but I have a chance to win the whole thing now.”

Saggers, 12, secured his spot in the Final by making a solid birdie on No. 8 (par 5, 387 yards).

After hitting a precise drive and well-planned hybrid lay-up, Saggers zeroed-in his three-quarter 56-degree wedge from 73 yards to seven feet. He would cap off his day with a fist pump and a berth in his first #GAPJrJr final.

“It felt really good to make the seven-footer on No. 8 for birdie to win my match,” Saggers said. “It wasn’t going to break that much and I knew a two-putt would get it done but when it went in I was happy. There was definitely a fist pump.”

Next on tap is No. 1 seed and long-hitting Josh Ryan, who was pushed to the limit in his semifinal match after cruising through his first two matches. Saggers said he is ready for the challenge that Ryan presents.

“I’m probably going to chip and putt to prepare for tomorrow’s final against Josh,” Saggers said. “I know he has a lot of distance off of the tee, so I have to have a good short game to be able to pull through tomorrow.”

Saggers and Ryan will face off tomorrow at 7:30 a.m for the Championship Flight title. In the First Flight, Talamore Country Club’s Eric Fryer will play Wilmington Country Club’s Matthew Homer at 7:45 a.m. starting on No. 1. Both will be 18-hole matches.

Now in its 69th year, the Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship is open to players from Member Clubs who are 10 to 13 years of age.

Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 151 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.

Championship Flight
Semifinals
1. Josh Ryan, Lu Lu CC d. 4. Evan Barbin, GAP Junior PC, 10 holes.
15. Benjamin Saggers, Applecross CC d. 11. Henry Stone, Bidermann GC, 2&1.

Quarterfinals
1. Josh Ryan, Lu Lu CC d. d. 9. Kevin Lafond, Blue Bell CC, 4&3.
4. Evan Barbin, GAP Junior PC d. 12. Kristof Kopecky, Concord CC, 3&2.
15. Benjamin Saggers, Applecross CC d. 7. Matthew Zerfass, Brookside CC of Allentown, 1 up.
11. Henry Stone, Bidermann GC d. 3. Jack Davis, Aronimink GC, 11 holes.
First Flight
Semifinals
1. Eric Fryer, Talamore CC d. 4. Nick Werner, Wyoming Valley CC, by default.
11. Matthew Homer, Wilmington CC d. 7. Jeffrey Homer, Wilmington CC, 10 holes.

Quarterfinals
1. Eric Fryer, Talamore CC d. 8. Ben Rubinich, RiverCrest GC & Preserve, 10 holes.
4. Nick Werner, Wyoming Valley CC d. 4. Jack Romeo, Cedarbrook CC, 2 up
7. Jeffrey Homer, Wilmington CC d. 15. Jackson Fryer, Talamore CC, 3&2.
11. Matthew Homer, Wilmington CC d. 3. Charlie Hurchalla, The Springhaven Club, 4&2.