Play suspended in 103rd Junior Boys’ Qualifier; Pochet leads
ROYERSFORD, Pa. — Spring Ford Country Club is a daily stop for Benjamin Pochet during the summers. It’s a healthy, thriving relationship between property and person, if Monday is any indication.
Pochet, who played in the morning, carded a 4-under-par 68 and holds the clubhouse lead in the 103rd Junior Boys’ Championship Qualifier presented by PURE Insurance at Spring Ford (par 72, 6,362 yards). Play was suspended for the day at 3:15 p.m. due to lightning and unplayable course conditions.
The qualifying round will resume tomorrow at 9 a.m. with a shotgun start. A sudden-death playoff to determine the remaining match play spots in both flights (Championship and First), if necessary, will follow.
The Round of 16 will begin once both match play brackets are finalized. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played Wednesday, June 21.
“Spring Ford is fun. I just like coming out here to play nine holes with some of my friends,” Pochet, who qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur Championship a week ago, said. “We get together on the golf course pretty often. I like it a lot. If I had to be honest, I’d probably say I should take a little bit more time off.”
It’s a good thing that Pochet and Spring Ford have yet to take a hiatus. Their history contributed to his subpar performance.
“I think it was a big factor. These greens break a lot, and knowing the greens helps,” Pochet, 17, of Royersford, Pa., said.
Pochet certainly knew the subtleties of No. 1 (par 4, 435 yards). After landing a 7-iron from 170 yards on the back left of the sprawling surface, he rolled a 60-footer that deked right at the outset and juked left into the jar for birdie. Another seemingly improbable birdie came on No. 3 (par 4, 370 yards). Pochet tugged a drive into fescue left. With a favorable lie on wispy strands, he lifted a gap wedge 110 yards to 15 feet. A wedge from 95 yards to 10 feet on No. 6 (par 4, 310 yards) moved Pochet to 3 under. He added a birdie on the par 5, 520-yard No. 9, knocking a — you guessed it — wedge 80 yards to six feet above the hole location. A rare Pochet miss occurred on No. 7 (par 3, 180 yards), where he missed the green right with a 5-iron and failed to convert a five-footer for par.
Pochet, a soon-to-be senior at Spring Ford High School, estimated a putt total of 30 on the day. His inward nine began with back-to-back one-putt greens. On the downhill/uphill 10th hole (par 4, 400 yards), Pochet whacked a wedge 100 yards to 15 feet. He then buried a left-to-right slider that tumbled in on the last revolution.
“I wanted to keep it just above the hole so it didn’t break too far down to the right, leave myself five feet coming back. It just dove right in,” Pochet said of the birdie.
Given their history, Spring Ford likely sent positive reassurances Pochet’s way on the 11th hole (par 4, 335 yards). He played a provisional off the tee, thinking his first breached the out-of-bounds boundary. Pochet found it underneath a tree on the left side, prospects null for a green in regulation. He punched a 6-iron into the front bunker, splashed out to eight feet and saved par. Pochet’s short game also atoned for a loose swing on No. 13 (par 4, 340 yards). A wayward 4-iron directed Pochet into no man’s land right. He safely chipped onto the fairway and grabbed his trusty wedge for a 90-yard shot to three feet for a 4. Pochet, a Drexel University commit, notched every green in regulation therein.
“I know I can save myself when I need to. That proved to be the case today,” he said. “I didn’t put the ball in too many terrible spots, and when I did, I got up-and-down. I would say the wedges were pretty good. A couple of times I had to chip out and I got up-and-down from 90 yards for par. It kind of kept the round going.”
The Junior Boys’ Championship is the premier Major in the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Junior Division. It is open to GAP Member Club golfers aged 14-18 who have not started their college education and who hold a handicap index of 14.4 or lower. Sixteen players qualify for match play; an additional 16 advancing into the event’s First Flight.
The Junior Boys’ Champion is awarded the Peg Burnett Trophy, named in honor of the Association’s Executive Secretary from 1951-76. Ms. Burnett was an ardent Junior golf supporter who emphasized sportsmanship and respect for the game. “I was very strict about checking the rule book. I didn’t make the rules, but since they are there, you have to abide by them.”
Golf Association of Philadelphia