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#GAPJunior: Josh Ryan repeats

VILLANOVA, Pa.–Josh Ryan of The 1912 Club became the ninth player in the 107-year history of the Junior Boys’ Championship to successfully defend his title with a 4&3 victory over Morgan Lofland of Phoenixville Country Club Wednesday at Overbrook Golf Club (par 70, 6,523 yards).

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Ryan turned in a near-flawless Championship Match performance to become the first repeat Junior winner since Robert Galbreath, Jr. of Huntingdon Valley Country Club went back-to-back in 2007-08. Galbreath also won consecutive titles in 2004-05. Galbreath is the only four-time winner of the Junior.

“It’s a little surreal. It hasn’t really sunken in yet,” said Ryan, 17, of Norristown, Pa. “It’s pretty amazing. It’s hard because every match is difficult. You have to play good golf every single round. This morning I wasn’t feeling it as much and almost lost. So I wasn’t even thinking about winning this again.”

Ryan is referring to his earlier semifinal contest against a dogged Matthew Homer of Wilmington Country Club. Ryan needed victories on the last two holes, including a must-make 18-foot birdie on No. 17 (par 4, 359 yards), to extend the match and force extras. Then on the 21st hole (No. 3, par 3, 210 yards), the reigning Junior Player of the Year who will attend Liberty University in the fall of 2022, ripped a sparkling 5-iron to four feet before sinking the winning putt.

That late momentum carried over into the Final against Lofland, a recent Conestoga High School graduate who is headed to Penn State University this August. Lofland, the Junior Stroke-Play Qualifying medalist for a second consecutive year, has had a strong last 10 days. The previous week, he was a semifinalist in the 121st BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship before falling to eventual winner Conor McGrath.

Ryan hit the first seven fairways of the title tilt and played the first 10 holes in the equivalent of 4-under par. He won Nos. 2 (par 4, 364 yards) and 4 (par 4, 431 yards) with short birdie conversions.

That match status was no reflection on Lofland’s performance, however. The 18-year-old resident of Paoli, Pa. was the equivalent of 2 under. Perhaps the most pivotal hole in the contest, in retrospect, came early. On No. 6 (par 4, 466 yards), Ryan drained an 18-footer for a 3 as Lofland eyed a makeable 10-footer and appeared to be in charge. Lofland did jar his putt, but instead of moving closer, Ryan stymied any early match mojo.

“That was really big because it kept the momentum with me,” said Ryan. “If I miss mine and he makes his, it would have changed everything. Especially with how good he was hitting it.”

“I played great all week coming up to that match. My game was in a good spot, mentally and physically,” said Lofland, who won the Junior Boys’ First Flight in 2018 at Blue Bell Country Club. “I felt good on the front and then my game just came apart on [No.] 11.”

Ryan stood at that 2-up margin with both finding the 11th green in regulation.

Lofland ran his 25-foot birdie try seven feet past. His next effort stopped two inches short of the cup. Ryan faced a delicate and quick 12-footer for birdie from the left side and eventually made a four-foot comebacker to move 3-up. That set up the decisive theme for the next two holes. Ryan went par-par on Nos. 12 (par 5, 519 yards) and 13 (par 4, 300 yards). Lofland and a suddenly icy putter went bogey-bogey.

“My plan was to try and shoot 2 under on each side,” said Ryan, who made only bogey in the Championship Match. “I wanted to be super boring and hit fairways and greens all day.”

Ryan hit 12 of 15 greens.

NOTES–Lofland cruised through his semifinal match against Jack Tarzy of Medford Lakes Country Club, winning 8&6 … Andy Thompson of Overbrook Golf Club, the 1965 GAP Junior Boys’ Champion, followed the title match. His victory came at Overbrook … This is the fourth time Overbrook has hosted the Junior Boys’ Championship and the first since 1991. Overbrook’s own, Brad McFadden, repeated as the Junior Champion that year.

Championship Flight

Final

1. Josh Ryan, The 1912 Club, d. 2.Morgan Lofland, Phoenixville CC, 4&3.

Semifinals

1. Ryan d. 12. Matthew Homer, Wilmington CC, 21 holes; 2. Lofland d. 14. Jack Tarzy, Medford Lakes CC, 8&6.

First Flight

Final

14. Matthew Normand, Laurel Creek CC, d. 12. Corey Haydu, Spring Mill CC, 20 holes.

Semifinals

12. Haydu d. 4. Thomas Lynch, CC of Scranton, 1-up; 14. Normand d. 15. Evan Eichenlaub, Saucon Valley CC, 1-up.

Junior Boys’ Championship
The Junior Boys’ Championship is the premier Major in the GAP Junior Division. It is open to members of a GAP Member Club 14-18 years of age who have not started their college education and who hold a handicap index of 14.4 or lower. Sixteen players qualify for match play; an additional 16 advance into the event’s First Flight. The Junior Boys’ Champion is awarded the Peg Burnett Trophy, named in honor of the Association’s Executive Secretary from 1951-76. Ms. Burnett was an ardent Junior golf supporter who emphasized sportsmanship and respect for the game. “I was very strict about checking the rule book. I didn’t make the rules, but since they are there, you have to abide by them.”

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.