HADDONFIELD, NJ (July 1, 2016) -- A resolute David Colleran, Jr., on the wings of an early advantage, soared to a 5&4 victory over Marty McGuckin in the 102nd Junior Boys’ Championship Friday at Tavistock Country Club.
He became the fifth Overbrook Golf Club member and first since Brad McFadden in 1991 to hoist the Peg Burnett Trophy. McGuckin made his own mark by emerging as the first RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve youngster to reach the Final.
“This is pretty special. I know it’s a pretty big tournament,” Colleran, 15, of Radnor, Pa., said. “It feels good to put my name on the trophy along with all of the others. [Coming into this week], I thought was going to make it to the Championship Flight. I’ve been playing well for a few weeks. I thought I had a chance.”
“I was really happy with how I played this week. I played against some great kids and am really happy with how I performed,” McGuckin, 18, of Valley Forge, Pa., said. “The whole week, my putting was great except for today’s final match unfortunately. Earlier the greens were a little slower, and my speed was much better. I was leaving myself two-foot par putts instead of five-foot par putts.”
At face value, the Final presented a David vs. Goliath theme. McGuckin is a stocky, distance-savvy swinger. Colleran’s frame is smaller, his length off the tee 50 yards shorter.
However, McGuckin miscues plus Colleran consistency equaled a 3-up lead for the latter thru three. On No. 1 (par 4, 352 yards), McGuckin walloped a drive onto the cart path, exercised relief accordingly and, with minimal wiggle room, lifted a 58-degree wedge 62 yards into a guarding greenside bunker. He failed to get up-and-down. A McGuckin three-putt on No. 2 (par 5, 546 yards) preceded the match’s turning point. Facing a “funky lie” on the next hole (par 4, 404 yards), McGuckin, a recent Malvern Prep graduate, flamed a 9-iron 165 yards into bedside rough and flung a chip to four feet. His putter, a reliable tool all week, petered out. He rimmed a par attempt while Colleran, with speed management in check, sunk a slippery six-footer to win the hole.
“I wasn’t expecting to be 3-up thru three holes. I knew that I couldn’t give up or take it lightly,” Colleran, a rising sophomore at Radnor High School, said. “Marty’s a good player. He could come back at any time. He just didn’t have it today.”
“At that point, I knew I didn’t have my putter going for me. I knew I had to hit the ball better, but after that, I just couldn’t find it unfortunately,” McGuckin, who will attend Temple University in the fall, said.
McGuckin’s search for stability continued; as did Colleran’s knack for capitalizing. On No. 9 (par 4, 350 yards), with his golf ball “an inch down in the rough” McGuckin swiped a gap wedge from 118 yards onto the false front and failed to get up-and-down. Colleran moved to 6-up on the next hole (par 4, 300 yards), where he knocked a 50-degree wedge 120 yards to 10 feet. His birdie putt tumbled in on the last revolution.
“At that point in the match, it’s tough for him to come back and win. I knew that pars were good enough to get the W,” Colleran said.
“He’s a great player. I’m happy for him and how he did,” McGuckin added. “I think [this experience] will help me going into college, understanding the pressure coming down the stretch.”
The aforementioned upswing in Colleran’s game of late is school-related. The study books closed, the practice and playing time opened up. Colleran is on the course six days a week, 5-7 hours a day.
“It was hard when the weather was getting nicer [and I was inside studying],” he said. “You want to play golf, but school is more important.”
Colleran showed Friday that he is head of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Junior class.
McGuckin claimed five of the first eight holes against Dawson Anders of Indian Valley Country Club en route to a 7&6 win. An Anders lost ball on No. 11 (par 4, 420 yards) sealed the Souderton Area High School senior’s fate.
“Once he got to 6-up, I felt like it was out of my control,” Anders, 17, of Telford, Pa, said. “He played great. He was making a lot of putts. He just took it and ran. I wasn’t playing like I was yesterday, not even close. My tee shots were all over the place. From 90 yards in, I couldn’t seem to get it within 15 feet. And I had a lot of three-putts.”
Colleran and Conners went to overtime. On the 19th hole (No. 1, par 4, 352 yards), Conners, a rising junior at Bishop Shanahan High School, overpowered a drive left, which forced a sideways punch-out from behind a tree. He then launched a 60-degree wedge from 102 yards into bushes behind the green.
“I gave myself the yardage I wanted into the green. I was just too quick and I thinned that ball,” Conners, 16, of Downingtown, Pa., said. “This week was great. When I come back next year, this will give me confidence. I think I’ll be able to do better.”
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