GLADWYNE, Pa.–Matt Raudenbush of Pine Valley GC and Michael Kania of Overbrook GC advanced into the final of the Junior Boys’ Championship on Friday at Philadelphia CC.
Raudenbush defeated Thomas Lindberg of St. Davids GC, 2-up, in the semifinals after stopping Kevin Ignatuk of Penn Oaks GC, 7&5, in the quarterfinals. Kania moved on with wins over Bobby Arthur of Tavistock CC, 2&1, in his semifinal match and Travis Gahman of Philadelphia Publinks GC, 4&3, in the quarters.
This is the first Junior Boys’ Championship final for both players.
The championship match will be on a mutually agreeable date on or before 8 a.m. on July 21. The location will be Philadelphia CC.
Raudenbush, the ninth seed, had Lindberg’s number early as he took the first three holes. But Lindberg, seeded fourth after qualifying, responded in kind with birdies on Nos. 6 (par 5, 498 yards) and 9 (par 4, 407 yards), where he sent in a wedge shot for birdie from just outside the greenside bunker.
The, true battle, however, didn’t begin until the back nine.
Raudenbush birdied No 12 (par 5, 541 yards) only to be answered by Lindberg who reeled off back-to-back under-par scores on No. 13 (par 4, 371 yards) and No. 14 (par 4, 423 yards) to move within one hole.
Lindberg, 17, of Wayne, Pa., finally forced the match to No. 18 (par 4, 392 yards) and had a chance to send it to extra holes when he dropped a 7-iron from about 160 yards to within 20 feet of the hole. Raudenbush, on the other hand, appeared to be in trouble after moments earlier his approach landed at the front of the green some 70 feet from the flag. Raudenbush, however, managed to two putt from there and Lindberg’s birdie chance just missed.
“Every time I did something he came right back and visa-versa,” said Raudenbush, 17, of Pine Valley, N.J. “It was a battle. It’s been awhile since I’ve played a match like that.”
Kania, 15, of Haverford, Pa., looks for a bit of history in the Junior Boys’ Championship final. He’ll hope to add a Junior title to his Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship from 2003. If Kania does so, he’ll be the first player since Eric Dollenberg of Philadelphia Cricket Club to capture both crowns. Dollenberg took the Junior-Junior title in both 1985-86 before earning the Junior Championship in 1989. Including Dollenberg, only four players have won both.
“That would be pretty cool,” said Kania. “I didn’t think many people have won both.”
Kania, who qualified as the sixth seed, never trailed in his semifinal match against Arthur after grabbing a 1-up lead on No. 3 (par 5, 559 yards) with a par.
He built his advantage to 2-up at various points throughout the round on strong wedge play and solid match play strategy, before closing out Arthur, the No. 2 seed, on the 17th hole (par 4, 425 yards).
He credited his brother James, who was on the bag, for keeping his game focused. James was the runner-up in the 2004 Junior Boys’ Championship to Robert Galbreath, Jr. of Huntingdon Valley CC.
“He knows my game better than me, and that’s good when he’s on the bag,” said Kania, “but when he’s not [caddying for me] that’s trouble.”
James Kania last looped for his younger brother in that Junior-Junior victory.
Kania was 1-up when he drained a 15-foot birdie on No. 8 (par 4, 377 yards). Arthur parred No. 11 (par 3, 178 yards) to reduce the lead to one hole but Kania again moved two ahead after making a two-putt par on No. 14 (par 4, 423 yards). Arthur found trouble out of the fairway bunker and failed to get up and down.
“James told me to hit it to the center of the green because he thought [Bobby] would have trouble making a par from where he was,” said Kania.” Arthur was behind the right trees. “He was right.”
Arthur sliced the deficit to one again on the strength of a solid tee shot at the difficult uphill, 15th hole (par 3, 195 yards), but Kania responded on No. 16 (par 4, 392 yards) with a 54-degree wedge that he landed in front of the green and skipped up to 12 feet. He made the birdie putt to go dormie and both players bogeyed their final hole, No. 17 (par 4, 425 yards), of the match.
“I think it almost hurt me being [a top seed] for match play,” said Arthur, 17, of Marlton, N.J. “I just didn’t want to let myself down.
“Just getting to the semifinals was pretty cool.”
The Junior Boys’ Championship was postponed on Monday and play was suspended on Tuesday and Wednesday. Today, stroke play qualifying was completed along with the first round of match play, which concluded around 8:30 p.m.
In the First Flight, Sam Ryder of Aronimink GC, the top seed, will face Jordan Wycoff of Hidden Creek GC in the final match.
8. Matt Raudenbush, Pine Valley GC, d. 4. Thomas Lindberg, St. Davids GC, 2-up
6. Michael Kania, Overbrook GC, d. 2. Bobby Arthur, Tavistock CC, 2&1
8. Raudenbush, Pine Valley GC, d. 16. Kevin Ignatuk, Penn Oaks GC, 7&5
4. Lindberg, St. Davids GC, d. 12. James Tallent, Merion GC, 2&1
2. Arthur, Tavistock CC, d. 7. James Bea, Spring Mill CC, 2&1
6. Kania, Overbrook GC, d. 14. Travis Gahman, Philadelphia Publinks GA, 4&3
1. Samuel Ryder, Aronimink GC, d. 4. John Inman, Cherry Valley CC, 5&4
2. Jordan Wycoff, Hidden Creek GC, d. 11. Daniel Charen, Yardley CC, 4&3
1. Ryder, Aronimink GC, d. 8. Pierce Dever, Trenton CC, 5&4
4. Inman, Cherry Valley CC, d. 5. Chris Applegate, Trenton CC, 8&7
2. Wycoff, Hidden Creek GC, d. 10. Steve Minnick, Bala GC, 2&1
11. Daniel Charen, Yardley CC, d. 3. Kevin Genuardi, Cedarbrook CC, 1-up