WEST HARTFORD, CT (July 21, 2016) -- It was a day to remember for the Turner family for a coupe of reasons. Of course the headline is that James Turner won the New England Amateur by finishing 7-under and five-strokes clear of the field at Hartford Golf Club. Turner began the gorgeous Connecticut day as a afterthought but shot rounds of 67-65 on the 36-hole final day to surge to the top of the leaderboard. The afternoon 65 tied the competitive course record.
"I think this is my best win one so far," 18-year-old Jason Turner said. "It is my first big major win."
The footnote story of the victory was that James' younger brother, 16-year-old Marc, who missed the cut on Tuesday at the U.S. Junior was on the bag for the final day.
Turner started the day 1-over and six-strokes behind 36-hole leader and future UConn Husky Tim Umphrey. Knowing that he needed to go low Turner put together a morning 3-under 67 to reach 2-under. In the third round Turner birdied five holes and bogeyed two. He really thrust himself into contention on his second nine when he birdied three of four holes from Nos. 3-6.
“I had the putter rolling really well today," Turner said of his run of birdies. "I made a few long ones out there.”
Still trailing entering the fourth round, Turner got off to a quick start with a birdie on No. 1 and then an eagle on the 513 yard par-5 4th to quickly reach 5-under and the top of the leaderboard. To close the opening side Turner bogeyed one and birdied one to turn in 3-under 32.
"When I went by the scoreboard the first time I saw I was 5-under with Ryan Tombs," explained Turner. "So I was definitely trying to get a few more."
And get a few more he did. The birdie on No. 9 was the beginning of 5-under-par in a five hole stretch. Turner carded his second eagle of the day on the 10th and then birdied Nos. 12 and 13 to move to 9-under and open up a sizable lead.
"I got back to where the leaderboard was just after I had reached 9-under," Turner continued. "I saw that (Tombs) was at 4-under so with a five shot lead I was just trying to not make any big numbers."
With five holes remaining Turner really had to work to keep the big numbers off his scorecard, especially on the 16th. Following a bogey on No. 14 and a par on No. 15, Turner reached the difficult par-4 16th and pushed his tee shot right and into the rough behind some of the tallest trees on the course.
“It’s tough because you always have a tendency to start thinking ahead,” said Turner. “I had to keep refocusing myself and take it one shot at a time.”
Facing a tough decision Turner made the wise decision and laid up from 225 yards to just inside 100 yards. From there the approach shot landed 25-feet behind the pin, the putt missed but Turner was able to salvage a bogey. “I was alright with bogey, that is probably the toughest hole on the course,” Turner said.
Before a standard par on the 18th, Turner had one more anxious moment on the par-3 17th. With the pin in the front left Turner hit a safe tee shot to the center of the green. Hoping to lag the putt close, the recent St. John's Prep (MA) graduate powered the putt 10-feet past the hole. However, Turner never hesitated as he drilled the come backer to save par and maintain a three-stroke lead.
"I was just relieved after a couple of bogeys to roll that one in," said Turner. "The putter hasn’t really been a problem so I felt confident over that putt."
The win for Turner concluded a busy stretch of golf that included nine consecutive competitive rounds. Before arriving at the Hartford Golf Club, Turner competed in the Bass Rocks Golf Club championship and then played in the 36-hole U.S. Amateur qualifier.
Five players finished tied for second place at 2-under. The group included Zach Zaback who will turn professional before the upcoming Connecticut Open, Geoff Vartelas, Bobby Leopold, Matthew Paradis and Ryan Tombs.
After staring the day with the lead Umphrey finished tied for 20th at 4-over.
It was quite the golf week for the Turner family. The week began with younger brother Marc playing in the U.S. Junior and James playing in the New England Amateur. Unfortunately, Marc missed the cut at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, TN on Tuesday, so Marc and mother Kathy hopped in their car and set off for Connecticut at 3:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.
After driving all day they arrived in Connecticut for a 6:30 p.m. dinner and then were at the course for the start of play on Thursday with Marc now on his older brothers bag.
"It was really special because I have never been able to caddy for him before when he has won," Marc Turner said with a smile on his face. "I’ve caddied for him a couple times and he wasn’t really near the top much so I think this is the first time that he was just hitting all his spots and hitting it really good."
The younger Turner currently attends St. John's Prep.
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