Courtesy of Pennsylvania Golf Association
The final round of the 108th Pennsylvania Amateur was a battle of attrition. In the end, John Peters won by knockout.
The 18-year old Peters, from Carlisle, Pa., playing in the final group of the day, holed out from Merion Golf Club’s historic 18th fairway Wednesday afternoon to score a one-shot victory.
Trailing clubhouse leader Mark Goetz (Greensburg, Pa.) by one stroke and standing in the 18th fairway, 193 yards from a back-left hole location, Peters hit an eight iron to the front of the green and then watched as his ball rolled the rest of the way towards Merion’s famed wicker basket flagstick where it eventually disappeared in the cup for an eagle two.
The shot may not have the historical impact of Ben Hogan’s one iron shot from the same fairway during the 1950 U.S. Open but it will be remembered for years to come.
Peters said he wanted to land the ball short of the pin. “I hit it a groove thin, maybe,” he said, “and I think that’s what helped it run out there. We were just trying to land it somewhere around the 175 number. We knew how firm the greens were downwind.
“I was really just trying to hit it close, just get a look at birdie.”
Prior to his dramatic second shot Peters was hoping for a playoff. Patrick Sheehan (Doylestown, Pa.), one of his playing companions, was tied with Goetz at one over par at that point.
Sheehan had a seven-foot birdie putt that would have forced a sudden-death playoff but his putt slid by the right edge of the hole, sealing the title for Peters.
Peters finished his Wednesday with an even-par 70 and the 54-hole championship at even-par 210. Goetz and Sheehan both wound up at 1-over par 211 after rounds of 69 and 74 respectively.
Joshua Ryan (Norristown, Pa.) shot a 71 that enabled him to share fourth pace with Jimmy Ellis (Venetia, Pa.) who closed with a 72.
Cole Willcox (Paoli, Pa.) was at 214, Michael McDermott, (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) Peter Bradbeer (Rosemont, Pa.) and Neal Shipley (Pittsburgh) and were all at 216. Wilcox, McDermott, and Bradbeer all play out of Merion.
Sheehan had a three-shot lead over Peters and Ellis when the day began, but he bogeyed his first three holes to open the door to a host of challengers. For most of the rest of the day there were half a dozen players near the lead at any given moment and all the contenders had their hands full.
Merion’s East Course played to 6,850 yards the greens were as firm as they had been all week
“Yesterday during my last eight or nine holes, it was brutal,” Goetz said. “It was very difficult to hold greens, even if you were in the fairway. And today was definitely, I think the most difficult.”
The key moment in Peters’ round came at the short par-3 13th which was playing to just 109 yards. His tee shot hit the pin and bounced off the green and caromed off the green, 35 feet from the hole. He chipped to four feet and made the putt.
Peters focused on avoiding big numbers although his scorecard included a double bogey at the par-4 11th. “Just trying to avoid big numbers and get myself as many stress-free pars as possible,” he said.
Peters, who will attend Duke in the fall, had played the East Course on one prior occasion. Goetz had never been on the grounds. Both demonstrated an awareness of Merion’s place in golf’s historical timeline.
“You can feel the history,” Peters said.
Goetz, who has one year of eligibility remaining at West Virginia, was surprised at the golf course’s small footprint. “I didn’t know it was built on just a hundred acres,” he said. This is probably the most fun I’ve had at a tournament in my career.”
ABOUT THE Pennsylvania Amateur
First played in 1909, the Pennsylvania Amateur is 54-
hole stroke play event open to any male amateur
golfer who is a member of a club belonging to the
Pennsylvania Golf Association. Non exempt players
must qualify through a sectional qualifying event a
month prior. There will be a cut to the low 40 and
after the second round.
View Complete Tournament Information