CINNAMINSON, N.J. – It took 23 holes for James Tallent of Merion GC to unseat No. 1 seed Edward McCrossen of Whitemarsh Valley CC and to earn a spot as a semifinalist in the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 95th Junior Boys’ Championship.
Trailing by two holes entering No. 17 (par 5, 477 yards), Tallent, of Haverford, Pa., carded a birdie to remain alive. His aggressive tee shot cut through the treeline and landed on the fairway. With about 170 yards to the flagstick, Tallent’s 9-iron found the center of the green, and he two-putted for birdie. McCrossen registered a par.
On No. 18 (par 4, 350 yards), Tallent, 17, took advantage of McCrossen’s out-of-bounds tee shot by making par to force extra holes. Tallent seized victory on the 23rd hole, No. 5 (par 4, 364 yards), when he knocked his pitching wedge from 127 yards out to about 12 feet from the flagstick.
McCrossen, of Ambler, Pa., pushed his 3-wood off the tee and found himself about five yards to the right of the fairway. He next hit a tree and landed in the rough on the left side of the rough. McCrossen’s 9-iron then traveled 148 yards and landed about 10 feet short of the flagstick. McCrossen, 17, couldn’t convert his ensuing par putt.
“He wasn’t able to get up-and-down from the fairway for par. I was on the green in regulation and was able to two putt,” Tallent said.
Ultimately, Tallent believes his short game allowed him to prevail.
“I just putted well. I had some good putts down the stretch to stay alive,” he said. “It was a tough match all the way through.”
“It was kind of like I had countless putts to win the match and he had countless putts to lose. He made every one and I missed every one,” McCrossen added.
Nevertheless, McCrossen feels proud of the way he competed in the tournament.
“I played great. I wanted to win it all, so that was very disappointing,” he said. “I can’t say that I didn’t play well. I gave it everything I had.”
Prior to his match against Tallent, McCrossen survived a battle against Greg Jarmas of Philadelphia Publinks GA. He defeated Jarmas, 2&1, but both players were All Square entering No. 15 (par 4, 400 yards).
“We were both playing well. We were both 3 under at that point,” Jarmas, 17, said.
After No. 12 (par 4, 425 yards), McCrossen was 2-up, but Jarmas fired birdies on Nos. 13 (par 4, 390 yards) and 14 (par 3, 185 yards) to even the match. The Wynnewood, Pa. resident drove his 5-iron to about 20 feet from the flagstick and converted the putt for birdie on No. 14.
However, on No. 15, McCrossen drained a four-footer for par while Jarmas three-putted for bogey. After Jarmas double-bogeyed No. 16 (par 3, 160 yards), McCrossen sealed victory on No. 17 (par 5, 477 yards), but it wasn’t easy. He hooked his approach shot – a 3-wood – into the left-side fescue.
“The fescue was up to my knees, but I could see my ball and I had a pretty decent lie,” McCrossen said. “My whole goal was to just try to get it on the green and two putt.”
And McCrossen did just that after Jarmas knocked his third shot out of the bunker to about 10 feet and failed to convert the ensuing birdie putt. Both players assessed the intensity that resonated throughout their battle.
“It was a great match,” Jarmas said. “It didn’t feel like a first-round match. It felt like a championship match.”
“It was such a competitive match,” McCrossen added. “I never felt this way after a Golf Association of Philadelphia match. I felt like I won the championship after that putt on No. 17. It’s such a weight off my shoulders.”
The match, however, may have never existed. Jarmas, of Wynnewood, Pa., squeezed his way into the No. 16 seed slot after prevailing in a playoff yesterday.
“I was surprised to even be in a playoff. I birdied No. 18 (par 4, 350 yards), and I didn’t even think I had to birdie,” he said. “In the car on the way home, I was thinking ‘thank God I made that putt on No. 18.’ I didn’t think it mattered, but it turned out to be a huge putt.”
“When I found out that I was playing Greg yesterday, I said ‘that’s a ridiculous 1-16 match,” McCrossen added. “Greg was one of the favorites to win this.”
Also advancing to the semifinals Wednesday were Mike Amole of Huntingdon Valley CC, Aaron Burton of Philadelphia Publinks GA and Zachary Herr of Jericho National GC. Burton, of Wilmington, Del., defeated Vince Boyle of JC Melrose CC, 4&3, to earn his first semifinals appearance.
“[Boyle] put me down two early. My little brother (Kietel, Burton’s caddie) told me to pick it up,” Burton, 16, said. “We were battling back and forth. I was just like, ‘I’ve got to keep putting pressure on him. I’ve got to take advantage of some of his miscues and make a couple of putts now and then.’”
Burton jumped into the driver’s seat on the back nine as Boyle bogeyed No. 10 (par 4, 425 yards) after topping a ball out of the rough.
“I had all of the momentum on the back nine. I really didn’t lose too much of it,” Burton said. “I was in the zone. I was hitting a lot of greens close to the pins.”
In the First Flight, Matt Cocco of Commonwealth National GC, Justin Smith of Lu Lu CC, Benjamin Cooley of Lu Lu CC and John Inman of Cherry Valley CC advanced to the semifinals. The final two rounds of the Junior Boys’ Championship begin tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. when Tallent tees off against Burton.
8. James Tallent, Merion GC, d. 1. Edward McCrossen, Jr., Whitemarsh Valley CC, 23 holes
4. Aaron Burton, Philadelphia Publinks GA, d. 5. Vince Boyle, JC Melrose CC, 4&3
15. Zachary Herr, Jericho National GC, d. 10. Kyle Raudenbush, Pine Valley GC, 2&1
3. Mike Amole, Huntingdon Valley CC, d. 11. Paul Carbone, Jr., Old York Road CC, 19 holes
Round of 16
1. McCrossen, Jr. d. 16. Greg Jarmas, Philadelphia Publinks GA, 2&1
8. Tallent d. 9. Daniel Novak, Talamore CC, 2&1
4. Burton d. 13. Zachary Dilcher, Hartefeld National, 3&2
5. Boyle d. 12. Tucker Koch, Rivercrest GC & Preserve, 20 holes
15. Herr d. 2. Andrew Keeling, Yardley CC, 6&4
10. Raudenbush d. 7. Evan Galbreath, Huntingdon Valley CC, 5&3
3. Amole d. 14. Cameron Leibert, Edgmont CC, 2 & 1
11. Carbone, Jr. d. 6. Edmond Felton, Jericho National CC, 6&5