ORELAND, Pa. — In a two-hole span, the 31st Jock MacKenzie Memorial transformed into a tussle between playing partners Mark Benevento, Jr. and Max Siegfried. Both players birdied the par 4, 373-yard 17th hole following picture-perfect wedges into kick-in range. Siegfried, of Aronimink Golf Club, bogeyed the 18th hole (par 4, 325 yards) while Benevento, who calls Greate Bay Country Club home, dropped a five-footer for a 3, forcing a sudden-death playoff between the compatriots.
Another Benevento birdie on No. 9 (par 4, 324 yards), the second playoff hole, declared the incoming University of Delaware freshman the victor Monday. He and Siegfried carded 3-under-par 69s in regulation at Sandy Run Country Club (par 72, 6,370 yards).
“It’s awesome. I’m just happy that I hung in there all day,” Benevento, 18, of Somers Point, N.J., said. “I got to three shots down [to Max] and finished 3 under in the last four holes, which is an awesome feeling. Neither of us made many mistakes. It really came down to who made the least mistakes and who played the smartest after they made them.”
“I’m kind of frustrated to be honest. My goal was to win and I didn’t. It kind of stings,” Siegfried, 17, of Villanova, Pa. “I’m glad Mark won. He’s one of my buddies. I think we spent every day together the last four days.”
Benevento’s chances of winning appeared dim the moment his tee shot on No. 1 (par 4, 351 yards), the first playoff hole, settled underneath a pine tree. He attempted to mimic a 5-iron that drew onto the fairway’s left edge, but it never responded. Siegfried, a rising senior at The Haverford School, sat comfortably in the fairway, 120 yards from the hole location. With playing honors, he knocked a 50-degree wedge to 30 feet. Benevento, peering through a dangerous window of green space, lined a 7-iron into the front bunker. He splashed out to five feet, completed the sand save and essentially halved Siegfried with a 4.
“I never counted him out of it. You can’t really assume anything,” Siegfried, a Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine Player to Watch in 2015, said. “I was thinking I needed to make something happen. He made an awesome par.”
An awesome par followed by a tremendous birdie.
Benevento decimated a drive to 40 yards on No. 9. With bunkers buffering his path to a back hole location, he landed a 54-degree wedge on the green’s front edge and watched it chase. Meanwhile, Siegfried pulled a 54-degree wedge from 75 yards left. His golf ball muzzled atop a mound of fringe. He rolled the ensuing birdie attempt into the good-good zone. Benevento, seeing an identical line of putt to one in regulation, made good on his effort from eight feet.
“I played it just outside the right edge and it went in,” he said.
In regulation, Benevento matched birdies with Siegfried on the par 5, 475-yard 15th hole to remain two back. He pulverized a 7-iron 200 yards and then bumped a wedge to two feet. Siegfried stopped a wedge at a foot. A “monkey see, monkey do” mantra highlighted No. 17: Benevento hit a 58-degree wedge 75 yards to two feet, Siegfried a 58-degree 70 yards to three feet.
The aforementioned 18th ultimately determined the tournament’s playoff fate. Both players approached the narrow par 4 conservatively. Siegfried’s hybrid sailed underneath an obstructing tree on the right side, prompting an innocent chip-out. Benevento, keenly aware of the circumstances, laid a knockdown 5-iron into the fairway and then aimed a 50-degree wedge from 130 yards right of the flagstick. It drew as he hoped and stopped at six feet. Siegfried failed to convert a 30-footer for par, leaving a deadlock door open.
Benevento barged through it. He’s now won a pair of GAP tournaments in a week. Benevento joined Matthew Davis, also of Aronimink, to take the Francis X. Hussey Memorial at Rolling Green Golf Club. Siegfried, ironically, caddied for the team.
“It’s an honor to have my name on two Junior tournaments. There’s a lot of history here,” Benevento, who will major in finance at Delaware, said.
Harry Hammond Award The day wasn’t a total loss for Siegfried. He tied J.T. Barker of Saucon Valley Country Club for the Harry Hammond Award at 282. The two will compete in an 18-hole stroke-play playoff at a date and venue to be determined.
The Harry Hammond Award is given to the player with the lowest aggregate score in the Junior Boys’ Championship Qualifier, the Christman Cup and the Jock MacKenzie Memorial. Siegfried, who won the Christman Cup presented by Global Golf Post last week, trailed Barker by a stroke entering the Jock MacKenzie. The latter carded a 2-under-par 70 Monday to finish third.
Jacob ZengJunior-Junior A par on the 18th hole (par 4, 300 yards) unearthed a Jacob Zeng smile. The score, commonplace on this day, also assured a Junior-Junior (Ages 10-13) victory for the Applecross Country Club youngster. Zeng carded a 1-over-par 37, which included eight pars and a bogey.
“I was really happy when I made the final putt and realized that I won. It’s really exciting for me,” Zeng, 13, of Downingtown, Pa., said.
Zeng’s lone blemish occurred on the par 4, 318-yard 17th hole, where he lipped a four-footer after reaching the green in regulation. He only stressed another on No. 10 (3, 112 yards) after catching the left greenside bunker with a pitching wedge. An extraction to two feet cooled that sweat.
Zeng won the First Flight in last year’s GAP Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship. He is a soon-to-be eighth grader at Episcopal Academy.
Jock MacKenzie served as Sandy Run Country Club’s head professional for more than three decades. The Memorial tournament, which originated in 1985, is named in his honor. It is open to Junior golfers — both male and female — from GAP Member Clubs. Sandy Run hosts the event each year.
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 151 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.
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