PHILADELPHIA, PA (June 29, 2005) -– Jason Bernstein of White Manor CC failed to qualify for the Junior Boys’ Championship’s top flight by a shot each of the last two years. On Monday at Torresdale-Frankford CC (par 70, 6,160 yards), amidst rainy and wet conditions, Bernstein left no doubt he’ll not only be competing in the Championship Flight, but will also be a contender for the title. The 17-year-old resident of Paoli, Pa., carded a 1-over-par 71 and earned co-medallist honors in the Junior Boys’ Championship Qualifier. Stephen Hudacek, III of Glenmaura National GC also posted a 1-over-par 71.
Bernstein will enter match play and the Championship Flight of the 91st Junior Boys’ Championship as the No. 2 seed. Hudacek will be the No. 3 seed, based on a tiebreaker. Robert Galbreath, Jr., of Huntingdon Valley CC, as the defending champion, automatically takes the top match play spot.
"Last summer I was trying too hard and I was letting the bad shots get to me," said Bernstein, a senior-to-be at Conestoga High School. He failed to make a leaderboard at any of the Golf Association of Philadelphia tournaments a year ago. "I have a whole new mentality this year. I’m not losing my temper. I’m not as tentative with my swing anymore either. I feel I can hit any shot at any time."
Bernstein opened with a 2-over-par 36 on his initial nine holes, but registered birdies on Nos. 11 (par 3, 199 yards), 14 (par 3, 180 yards) and 15 (par 4, 299 yards) to move to 1-under. He struck a pair of spectacular 6-irons on 11 and 14, to three feet and a foot, respectively, before dropping a lob wedge from 78 yards to inches on No. 15. He stayed in red figures until the 18th hole (par 4, 364 yards) when a wayward drive resulted in two bunkers shots and a double bogey.
Bernstein points to maturity and a couple of college-bound practice playing partners, Conrad Von Borsig, who is heading to the University of Virginia, and Billy McCrossan, who is attending the University of Pennsylvania, as the reason for his newfound stability. "Watching those guys and how they play and manage the game has really helped me," said Bernstein.
Hudacek used a precise short game to grab the third seed. He dropped a lob wedge from 80 yards to a foot on No. 1 (par 4, 345 yards). Bogeys on the second and fifth holes preceded another short birdie chance on No. 6 (par 4, 416 yards). A long drive left him a lob wedge from 95 yards. He dropped that to two feet. Another lob wedge on No. 15 (par 4, 299 yards) from 65 yards left him eight feet for a third birdie on the day. However, Hudacek bogeyed two par threes on the backside to finish at 1 over. This is the 17-year-old’s first trip into the match play portion of the Junior. "I wanted to come out and shoot a number and qualify," said Hudacek, who recently graduated from Scranton Prep and will attend St. Joseph’s University in the fall.
Match play could prove favorable for the 6-foot-3 Hudacek. His high school league, Lackawanna South, uses match play for all its contests. "It’s my favorite format," said Hudacek of Scranton, Pa. "I play the course and not the player. You can get a little more aggressive in match play and not worry about making birdies."
Sam Ryder of Aronimink GC and Steve Dressel of Spring Ford CC each carded 3-over-par 73s. Galbreath, who will be the top seed for match play after taking the title as a 13-year-old last summer, posted a 77. The cut for the Junior Boys’ Championship fell at 76. A field of 113 players competed in the Junior Boys’.
The qualifying round for the Junior Boys’ Championship and scores from the two rounds of the Christman Cup comprise the Harry Hammond Award.
The Junior Team Championship also runs concurrently with the Junior Boys' Championship Qualifier. Teams consist of three or four players with the low three scores counting toward the final total. Overbrook GC and its four entrants – Michael Kania (75), James Kania, Jr. (77), Reed Valutas (78) and Joe Hurley (94) – finished with a 230 a total, seven shots clear of White Manor CC (237). Yardley CC (238), Tavistock CC (239) and St. Davids GC (240) rounded out the top five. This was the first Junior Team Championship for Overbrook GC. The event started in 1950.
For complete match play ladder results, click on the tournament link above (amateurgolf.com membership required).