YARDLEY, Pa. – It’s a tough debate as to which was hotter Monday at Makefield Highlands Golf Club (par 72, 6,980 yards): the region’s record-breaking temperatures or Ryan Lee’s golf game.
| Scorecards |
Lee, of Norwood, N.J., ran away from the rest of the field with a 5-under-round of 67 in the morning wave to earn medalist honors in a U.S. Junior Amateur Championship Qualifier. His six birdies, in addition to the event’s eagle highlight on No. 13 (par 4, 283 yards), resulted in Lee bettering a field of 95 national championship hopefuls.
David Morgan, of Naples, Fla., and Spring Ford Country Club’s Benjamin Pochet, of Royersford, Pa., grabbed the other two spots available thanks to 2-under 70s. Earning alternate positions were Waynesborough Country Club’s Cole Kemmerer (Malvern, Pa.) and Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s Conor McGrath (Huntingdon Valley, Pa.).
The Championship proper is set for July 17-22 at Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover, Kan.
Lee sliced his drive on No. 2 (par 4, 454 yards) all the way back to the first fairway, but a trusty 8-iron got him back in birdie contention, leaving him for 25-feet up hill. He powered the attempt, but his ball caught the back edge of the cup and dropped for his first red number on the card. Lee’s 8-iron again left him with a decent look on No. 3 (par 3, 159 yards), where he proceeded to hole the 15-footer for birdie number two.
The red-number run continued on Nos. 4 (par 4, 337 yard), where Lee converted a downhill birdie from eight feet, and 5 (par 4, 330 yards), where he left himself with a simple tap-in birdie after perfectly spinning his wedge approach shot.
A Lee double arrived before making the turn on No. 9. After booming a drive that left him with just 250 yards out, he pushed his 3-wood approach shot out-of-bounds. From there, he took a provisional, hit 7-iron to lay up 90 yards out, put it to 8 feet with a wedge and walked away with a troubling 7.
“I wasn’t happy after that. That could have been disastrous,” said Lee. “Coming off No. 9, I was so angry, and managed to calm down. It could have gotten away from me there.”
A birdie righted the ship on the long 547-yard, par-5 12th. A solid drive followed by an approach that took a hard bounce over the green left Lee scrambling, but instead, Lee utilized his ball’s tough lie on the chip, putting it to 10 feet. He dunked that putt, which “really boosted the morale.” Lee’s eagle on the 13th came in result of a pure 3-wood off the tee that nestled to eight feet. That moved him to 5-under on the day – the number he would ultimately arrive to the scoring area with.
“At 67, I feel pretty good about that number. From Nos. 14 to 18, I definitely had some birdie looks that I could have converted, but overall, I played really well,” said Lee, a high school junior at Old Tappan High School.
The 17-year-old started playing golf six years ago, fueled in part to slight jealousy of his grandmother’s great golf game.
“I couldn’t believe that my grandma was killing it on the golf course at 60 years old,” said Lee, who is currently being recruited by Rutgers University, the University of Delaware and the University of Iowa. “She was incredible. I couldn’t take the fact that she was beating me. At first, I played just because of that, but now, I’ve realized that golf is such a fantastic game. That’s what really sparked my love for it.”
Living 25 minutes outside of New York City, Lee sticks to North Jersey’s public country courses to fill his golf fix. His competition schedule is mostly filled with high school and American Junior Golf Association (AJGA) competition.
Now, he’ll make his national championship debut at Flint Hills.
“I’ve heard the course is awesome,” he said. “Qualifying is a great first step. The ultimate goal down there will be to make match play and see what happens.”
Pochet, a Drexel University commit, will also be making his USGA debut in this year’s Junior Amateur.
“I’ve never played well in these Qualifiers, so it’s finally nice to have pulled through,” said Pochet, 17. “I’ve been looking for this confidence in my game with a ton of golf to be played coming up. I’m thrilled.”
Pochet says his game has been rocky this spring while accustoming to new equipment across the board. He’ll be happy to show his future Drexel coach Ben Feld, the 2017 GAP Middle-Amateur Champion, today’s card.
“Having not played too well lately, I’ve felt some pressure having to step up a little bit to show those [Drexel] guys some good scores to look at. It was nice to put up this number up today,” said Pochet, a senior-to-be at Spring Ford High School.
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 153 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.
|Name, city, state||Score|
|Ryan Lee, Norwood, N.J.||67|
|David Morgan, Naples, Fla.||70|
|Benjamin Pochet, Royersford, Pa.||70|
|Alternates (in order)|
|*Cole Kemmerer, Malvern, Pa.||71|
|*Conor McGrath, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.||71|
|Failed to qualify|
|*Matthew Davis, Newtown Square, Pa.||71|
|William Huang, Exeter, N.H.||72|
|Hiroshi Tai, Howey-In-The-Hills, Fla.||72|
|Luca Jezzeny, Furlong, Pa.||73|
|Jack Wall, Brielle, N.J.||73|
|Nikita Romanov, Wilmington, Del.||74|
|Kevin Scherr, Allentown, Pa.||74|
|Patrick Sheehan, Doylestown, Pa.||74|
|Sudarshan Yellamaraju, Canada, Ontario||74|
|Dawson Anders, Telford, Pa.||75|
|Danny Dougherty, Wilmington, Del.||75|
|Brendan Hansen, Spring Lake, N.J.||75|
|Ward McHenry, Spring City, Pa.||75|
|Anthony Colombino, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.||76|
|Matt Graeff, Blue Bell, Pa.||76|
|Jacob Hanzel, Sewell, N.J.||76|
|David Hurly, Newtown Square, Pa.||76|
|Brian Isztwan, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.||76|
|Kyle Quagliero, Medford, N.J.||76|
|Ronald Robinson, Hatfield, Pa.||76|
|Alec Ryden, Moorestown, N.J.||76|
|J.T. Spina, Schwenksville, Pa.||76|
|Andreas Aivazoglou, Glen Mills, Pa.||77|
|Connor Boham, Collegeville, Pa.||77|
|Francis Gregor, North Wales, Pa.||77|
|Liam Hart, Holland, Pa.||77|
|Noah Schwartz, Cherry Hill, N.J.||77|
|Kevin Smith, Wallingford, Pa.||77|
|Christopher Warner, Medford, N.J.||77|
|David Colleran, Radnor, Pa.||78|
|Thomas Deal, Cornelius, N.C.||78|
|Jack Irons, Naples, Fla.||78|
|Matt Kristick, Berlin, Md.||78|
|Patrick Laushell, Morrisville, Pa.||78|
|Daniel Pinciotti III, Ivyland, Pa.||78|
|Ben Steenland, Spring Lake, N.J.||78|
|Michael Sydnes, Bryn Mawr, Pa.||78|
|Andrew Wallace, Narberth, Pa.||78|
|Will Dickson, Providence, R.I.||79|
|Timothy Lorenzo, Maple Glen, Pa.||79|
|Alex Mulrooney, Wilmington, Del.||79|
|Jon Nolan Perry, Berwyn, Pa.||79|
|Charlie Baker, Wayne, Pa.||80|
|Matthew Del Rosso, Pittsburgh, Pa.||80|
|Gregory Deluca, Langhorne, Pa.||80|
|David Kim, Dresher, Pa.||80|
|Caleb Rossi, Cedar Run, N.J.||80|
|Hayden Rousselle, Doyestown, Pa.||80|
|Dylan Audi, Sinking Spring, Pa.||81|
|Justin Dougherty, Philadelphia, Pa.||81|
|Matthew Law, Yardley, Pa.||81|
|Jonathan Lumley, Royersford, Pa.||81|
|William Mitchell, Moorestown, N.J.||81|
|Griffin Smith, Holland, Pa.||81|
|Matt Camel, Greenwich, Conn.||82|
|Billy Civitella, North Palm Beach, Fla.||82|
|Akhil Giri, Moorestown, N.J.||82|
|Max Rubin, Marlton, N.J.||82|
|Caleb Ryan, Norristown, Pa.||82|
|Kyle Spielman, Montvale, N.J.||82|
|Ben Wiseman, New Hope, Pa.||82|
|Bobby Beck, Allentown, Pa.||83|
|Thomas Butler, Telford, Pa.||83|
|Wills Montgomery, Exton, Pa.||83|
|Shravann Raja, Moorestown, N.J.||83|
|Cal Buonocore, Newtown Square, Pa.||84|
|Buddy Hansen, Blue Bell, Pa.||84|
|Joel Hark, Voorhees, N.J.||84|
|Stephen Lorenzo, Lower Gwynedd, Pa.||84|
|Joshua Ryan, Norristown, Pa.||84|
|Brandon Wei, East Brunswick, N.J.||84|
|Ryan Conners, Downingtown, Pa.||85|
|Alex Golland, Wynnewood, Pa.||85|
|Tanner Leonard, Berlin, Md.||85|
|Evan McNally, Medford, N.J.||85|
|Hayden Moffat, Hatboro, Pa.||85|
|Tyler Roland, Newtown Square, Pa.||85|
|Nicholas Schnur, Lafayette Hill, Pa.||85|
|Drew Warner, Bethlehem, Pa.||85|
|Jacob Macinanti, Lancaster, Pa.||86|
|Brandon Gregg, North Wales, Pa.||87|
|Michael Gallagher, Mountainside, N.J.||88|
|Ryan Borrmann, Warminster, Pa.||90|
|Rodolfo Castillo, New York, NY||90|
|Daniel Galbreath, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.||90|
|Michael O’Neill, Philadelphia, Pa.||92|
|Brandon Cassidy, Doylestown, Pa.||94|
|John Mallozzi, Horsham, Pa.||WD|
|Ryan McHugh, Yorklyn, Del.||WD|
|Nicholas Scott, Harleysville, Pa.||WD|
|Dylan Topaz, Fort Washington, Pa.||WD|
|Samuel Walker, Radnor, Pa.||WD|
|Daniel Bastian, Media, Pa.||NS|
|Dean Naime, Rye, N.Y.||NS|
|*determined in playoff|
|NS-no show; WD-withdrawal|