CINNAMINSON, N.J.– Zachary Herr of Jericho National GC edged James Tallent of Merion GC in 19 holes to win the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 95th Junior Boys’ Championship on Thursday at Riverton CC.
“I’m very happy. I’m glad I didn’t lose,” Herr, of New Hope, Pa., said. “Hopefully, I can come back next year and defend my title. I have four more years to beat Robert Galbreath, Jr.’s record.”
On the first extra hole (No. 1, par 4, 362 yards), Herr, 14, pulled his tee shot – a driver – left and found himself in the leftside rough. He then knocked a lob wedge 72 yards and landed 10-feet short of the flagstick. Herr then two-putted for par.
“I knew he had a long putt, and my gameplan all day was to let him make the mistakes,” he said.
Tallent stuck his tee shot on the fairway and then knocked his pitching wedge 114 yards to 45 left of the flagstick.
“I just pulled it,” Tallent, 17, said of his approach.
Tallent’s mistake came on the green. The Haverford, Pa., resident left his first putt about 15 feet shy of the cup. He couldn’t convert the following par putt.
“It was a downhill putt, so I was a little careful with it. I left it short, and had another shot, but I couldn’t make it,” Tallent said.
Tallent controlled the match early and stood at 2-up entering the final nine. However, he struggled on No. 12 (par 4, 415 yards) after he stuck his tee shot in the leftside rough. Tallent then rolled his 5-iron 15 yards.
“I underestimated the thickness of the rough,” he said. “It’s really tough. I wasn’t able to advance it very far.”
Tallent went on to bogey while Herr converted his three-footer for par. With the match All Square entering No. 13 (par 4, 382 yards), Tallent again encountered trouble after his approach shot – an 8-iron – traveled 155 yards and landed in the No. 14 tee box.
“There was a tree. It was negotiable, but I wanted to play a draw around it. I put a little too much action on it,” Tallent said.
Tallent chipped back onto the green, but didn’t convert a 20-footer for par. After Herr’s tee shot found the fairway, his pitching wedge soared about 147 yards into the leftside rough. Herr then chipped up to about a foot, and Tallent conceded his par putt.
“I didn’t want to go back 1-down because we were running out of holes,” Herr said. “I knew I had to make a comeback, and I did. I made a bunch of pars and eventually wore him down.”
Herr remained 1-up heading into No. 17 (par 5, 479 yards). After Tallent’s drive found the fairway, he witnessed his 7-iron go 183 yards and land about 20 feet to the left of the flagstick. Tallent drained the ensuing eagle putt. Herr parred the hole.
“I gave myself a good chance to win,” Tallent said of the eagle.
Both Herr and Tallent made par on No. 18 (par 4, 353 yards) to force extra holes. Overall, the two felt proud of the way they competed in the tournament.
“I’m very glad to get to the point that I did,” Tallent said. “I really played well for most of this week. I just didn’t make the putts when I needed to.”
“I just wanted to go out there, play my best and whatever happened, happened,” Herr added.
To reach the finals, Tallent squeezed by Aaron Burton of Philadelphia Publinks GA in 19 holes in the semifinals. Entering No. 18 (par 4, 353 yards) in regulation, Tallent carried a one-hole advantage, but he didn’t get up-and-down after knocking his approach shot over 100 yards out into the bunker. After Burton’s tee shot found the center of the fairway, the Wilmington, Del., resident hit his 50-degree wedge 122 yards and then converted a six-footer for par.
“I was pretty confident going into No. 1 (the first extra hole). I was putting pressure on him,” Burton said.
On No. 1 (par 4, 362 yards), Burton’s second shot – a knockdown 54-degree wedge – landed about 10 yards short of the green. He punched it up to about five feet, but missed his putt and conceded Tallent’s par.
“It was back and forth the whole time. Nobody really sustained a lead. I won a hole, then he won a hole,” Burton, 16, said. “It was really tight and really tough. I’m just happy to have made it this far.”
Herr defeated Mike Amole of Huntingdon Valley CC, 1-up, to advance to the final. Amole, 16, had a chance to even the match on No. 18, but failed to convert a 20-footer for birdie after knocking his 9-iron 127 yards from the fairway.
“I played decent. I could have made a few more putts,” Amole, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said. “[Herr] played solid all day. But I feel pretty good about the way I competed. I can’t complain.”
In the First Flight Final, Benjamin Cooley of Lu Lu CC defeated clubmate Justin Smith, 5&4.
Cooley, 16, of Rydal, Pa., took a lead on the second hole and never looked back. Smith is 15 and a resident of Jenkintown, Pa.
15. Zachary Herr, Jericho National GC, d. 8. James Tallent, Merion GC, 19 holes
8. Tallent d. 4. Aaron Burton, Philadelphia Publinks GA, 19 holes
15. Herr d. 3. Mike Amole, Huntingdon Valley CC, 1-up
2. Benjamin Cooley, Lu Lu CC, d. 13. Justin Smith, Lu Lu CC, 5&4
13. Smith d. 8. Matt Cocco, Commonwealth National GC, 3&2
2. Cooley d. 6. John Inman, Cherry Valley CC, 4&3