Putter propels Elmhurst’s Pabst to First Flight title
COATESVILLE, Pa. — After the 105th Junior Boys Championship Qualifier, part of the Junior series presented by Citadel, William Pabst Jr. could not help but feel dejected as he left Coatesville Country Club. With his score of 77, Pabst had missed out on a playoff for a spot in the Championship Flight by just one shot. He played his final seven holes in 6 over, tallying five three-putts from 15 feet or closer.
There was certainly reason to feel disheartened, but Pabst did not dwell on his disappointment. Having still earned a spot in the tournament’s First Flight bracket, the 15-year-old was determined to correct his putting stroke before the next day.
“I switched putters. I switched how I gripped it. I switched where I gripped on the shaft,” Pabst, a member of Elmhurst Country Club, said. “I switched everything about my putting and stuff just fell into place.”
It was on the third hole of Pabst’s Round of 16 match against Christopher Dorey, that the Roaring Brook Township, Pa. resident first became convinced that his changes were paying off.
“It was the second putt from about five feet that I made and it gave me some confidence with the putter,” Pabst said.
A rising sophomore at North Pocono High School, Pabst rode his revamped flatstick all the way to Wednesday’s First Flight Final against Phoenixville Country Club’s Morgan Lofland. There, Pabst used three consecutive wins on Nos. 7-9 to gain an advantage he would not relinquish.
Although Lofland, the defending champion in the Junior Boys’ First Flight, closed the gap by winning three consecutive holes of his own (Nos. 12-14), the title would belong to Pabst. With a pair of pars on Nos. 16 (par 4, 316 yards) and 17 (par 4, 436 yards), Pabst made his first appearance in match play at the Junior Boys’ a triumphant one.
“Match play is fun,” Pabst said. “You don’t have to worry about making big numbers. You just have to beat the guy on one hole.”
Despite falling just short of defending his title from a year ago, Lofland, a rising junior at Conestoga High School, was relatively pleased with his play this week.
“I tend to pick it up in match play,” Lofland, 16, of Paoli, Pa., said. “That’s kind of my thing. I started hitting some really good iron shots, and sinking the putts, but that last match I just went cold in the middle.”
Both Pabst and Lofland are eligible to return to the Junior Boys’, an event that is open to those 18 years of age or younger, for the next few years. Both intend to do so.
Championship Flight semifinals at a glance
It was “June Madness” at Coatesville Country Club (par 71, 6,265 yards) on Wednesday as the Final Four remaining in the 105th Junior Boys Championship, part of the GAP Junior Series presented by Citadel, vied for a spot in the tournament’s final.
In the end, it was Patrick Sheehan, of Talamore Country Club, and Austin Barbin, of Loch Nairn Golf Club, who each notched 4&3 victories in GAP’s own version of March’s biggest event.
Sheehan used a 3-under front nine to power his way past Shawnee Country Club’s William Mirams. Despite playing the match’s 15 holes in 1 over, Mirams, who will attend the University of Delaware in the fall, was unable to overcome a scorching Sheehan.
“I played pretty consistently,” Mirams, 17, of Stroudsburg, Pa., said. [I] missed a few putts that changed some things, but other than that I was OK with it. Patrick played great. You can’t really beat that.”
A humorous incident on the 15th tee summed up Mirams’ misfortunates perfectly. After hooking his tee shot out of bounds, Mirams’ cousin turned caddie, James Tondt, tossed the golfer a ball for his provisional shot. The throw came up a bit short, however, ricocheting off a rock and into a dense shrubbery from which it was unable to be retrieved.
Mirams would go on to lose the match on that same hole.
In the morning’s second semifinal, Barbin defeated Patrick Isztwan of Huntington Valley Country Club, 4&3. Isztwan who, in Tuesday’s Quarterfinals was 3 under with the usual match play concessions, was unable to sustain his nearly flawless play.
“I played really well the first two days and just sort of lost my swing today,” Isztwan, 16, of Huntington Valley, Pa., said. “[I] couldn’t really find anything. I didn’t really deserve to win today. Austin played better than me and I just couldn’t get it going.”
Isztwan is an incoming junior at William Penn Charter School.
Although both Isztwan and Mirams saw their runs at this week’s Junior Boys’ end a little earlier than they would have liked, the two have plenty of competitive golf ahead of them in the coming weeks. Both players will be in the field at Thursday’s U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifier at Berkshire Country Club and at next week’s Pennsylvania Golf Association Junior Championship in Hershey, Pa.
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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