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Torresdale-Frankford's Boyle claims Junior Boys' Championship crown
EXTON, Pa. - Vince Boyle of Torresdale-Frankford CC and Benjamin Cooley of Lu Lu CC traded jabs throughout their 18-hole tussle Wednesday for the 96th Junior Boys’ Championship title.
Boyle, aided by a self-destructive yet scrappy Cooley, delivered the knockout blow on the final hole at Whitford CC (par 72, 6,658 yards) for a 1-up victory.
Like any epic battle, Boyle, 17, and Cooley, 17, tirelessly dueled and entered the par 4, 393-yard 18th hole All-Square. Cooley, of Rydal, Pa., hooked his drive into the left-side trees. With pine needles dangling over his hat, nearly obstructing his view of the flagstick, Cooley punched his 5-iron 155 yards. It coasted across the fairway and into the right greenside bunker.
“I actually got it the way I wanted it. A yard or two left more left and it could’ve been pretty good,” Cooley, a senior at Abbington High School, said.
Boyle’s tee shot landed in the fairway. His smooth 9-iron approach sailed 150 yards and settled just shy of the putting surface. Meanwhile, Cooley tried to escape the bunker with a sand wedge, but his ball deflected off the ridge and dropped back into the bunker.
“I usually am pretty good out of the bunkers, but I chunked that one,” he said.
Cooley’s second effort proved successful. Boyle’s under-par chance chugged more than 40-feet uphill and missed the cup. His five-footer to save par skirted the edge of the cup. But it proved irrelevant as Cooley three-putted from 25-feet to log his first triple bogey of the tournament.
Cooley leapt to an early lead by winning No. 1 (par 4, 376 yards). Boyle popped his drive, but then cleared the left greenside bunker by lacing his 4-iron 195 yards. Cooley struck his 9-iron 145 yards and two-putted from 25-feet. Boyle, a soon-to-be freshman at Villanova University, failed to save par. Both players drilled their drives into the No. 4 (par 5, 575 yards) fairway. Cooley attempted to clear an overhanging tree with a 5-iron, but it clipped a branch and plummeted into the rough. He rocketed his 3-wood 250 yards, but it veered into the hazard. Boyle stuck his 9-iron 145 yards to 25-feet and two-putted for par.
Boyle gained the upper-hand on the par 4, 399-yard No. 6. After his approach caught the ridge of the right greenside bunker, Cooley ran his chip five-feet past the cup and missed the comebacker. Boyle's approach found the front of the green, and he two-putted to card a par and to take a 1-up lead. But Cooley evened the contest once again by drilling his 7-iron 160 yards and rolling in a seven-footer for birdie. Boyle’s approach 7-iron soared 160 yards, but he missed his lengthy, uphill birdie chance. Cooley nearly seized the driver’s seat on No. 8 (par 4, 402 yards), but his uphill 40-footer for birdie stopped inches from the jar. Boyle successfully extricated himself from the right greenside bunker to save par.
Momentum continued to sway. On the 496-yard dogleg right, par 5 No. 9, Cooley hooked his tee shot out-of-bounds and couldn’t match Boyle’s par. But two holes later, Boyle pulled his drive into the left-side trees and encountered trouble.
“I was literally in the middle of a pine tree, and I tried to punch a driver through,” he said. “I could barely hit the ball.”
Boyle then breached Rule 18-2 to lose No. 11 (par 4, 339 yards) and to make the contest All-Square. Errant tee shots on both sides continued to serve as an underlying theme. Cooley was the centerpiece on No. 12 (par 5, 500 yards). He attempted to clear the right-side trees with a 5-iron, but his ball nicked a branch and dropped into the rough. Cooley’s third shot landed into the greenside bunker, and he couldn’t recover to save par. Boyle pulverized his 4-iron 260 yards, then hit his wedge 50 yards and two-putted for par.
Both players halved the par 3, 150-yard 13th hole. The next two holes turned into prime opportunities for Cooley to regain the lead. Boyle steered his drive into the right fairway bunker on No. 14 (par 4, 362 yards), blasted out and skulled his third shot over the green. Cooley launched his drive 260 yards onto the fairway. With manageable yardage into the green, Cooley knocked his sand wedge to the left and flubbed his ensuing chip. Boyle’s 7-iron from 145 yards out didn’t reach the putting surface, but he managed to match Cooley’s bogey. On the following hole, Boyle pushed his drive into the right rough while Cooley found the fairway. Standing 135 yards from the flagstick, Cooley hit his pitching wedge 30-feet below the cup and three-putted for bogey. Boyle followed suit.
“Those (Nos. 14 and 15) were the chances for me,” Cooley said.
“The wind was in my face, so I thought it was the perfect distance for a GAP wedge,” Boyle said. “It flies the green about 20 yards. I literally didn’t understand it. I was so confused. For my next shot, my ball was on a root. I tried to punch an 8-iron through the rough, but it didn’t work.” Boyle then skulled his next chip shot 40-feet past the flagstick to lose the hole.
Both players halved No. 17 (par 3, 175 yards) with pars: Cooley from 25-feet right of the flagstick, and Boyle from in front of the putting surface. For Boyle, though, what transpired there fueled his confidence entering No. 18.
“I was in front of the green, and I ran the (birdie) putt eight-feet past,” he said. “It was an uphill putt, so I was aggressive with it. The comebacker was really nice. That was clutch. I needed that.”
Boyle is the first Torresdale-Frankford CC member to win the Junior Boys’ Championship. For Cooley, the No. 9 seed, he’s proud of the way he competed.
“It felt good to play well this week,” Cooley said. “I got matches against guys who I knew could play, and it felt good to beat them. Vince just beat me today. He made the putts when they counted, and I didn’t.”
Justin Smith of Huntingdon Valley CC defeated Eric Slawter of St. Davids GC, 5&4, for the First Flight title. In 2009 at Riverton CC, Smith, of Jenkintown, Pa., lost to Cooley in the Final.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s nice to come back from last year,” Smith, a senior at Jenkintown High School, said.
Smith built up an early advantage and sealed victory on No. 14. He two-putted for par from the rear of the green after striking his pitching wedge 110 yards.
Both Boyle and Cooley posted commanding victories to gain a spot in the Finals. Boyle defeated Bobby Svigals of Radnor Valley CC, 5&4, and Cooley eliminated GAP newcomer Conor Pocino of Old York CC at Chesterfield, 5&4.
Svigals, of Villanova, Pa., seized a 1-up advantage early by drilling his 5-iron 185 yards and two-putting from 25-feet for par on No. 3 (par 4, 431 yards). However, he started to slip on the par 5, 575-yard No. 4 after three-putting from 15-feet. The Episcopal Academy senior couldn’t equal a Boyle 15-foot birdie on No. 6 (par 4, 399 yards). After spraying his drive into the left-side trees on No. 7 (par 4, 383 yards), Svigals, 17, attempted to reach the green with a 4-iron from 170 yards out, but it clipped a tree and fell short. An errant tee shot on No. 11 (par 4, 339 yards) added to his woes. He went on to knock his 6-iron 110 yards into the hazard and to lose the hole.
“I tried to hit some good shots, but it didn’t really work out,” Svigals said. “I played really well all week. My putting was pretty poor today, but I struck the ball well.”
Pocino, of Chesterfield, N.J., also dug himself a deep hole early. He lost four consecutive holes, starting with a wayward 4-iron, three-putt combination from 30-feet on No. 2 (par 3, 193 yards). On No. 3 (par 4, 431 yards), Pocino hit his 8-iron 150 yards, but came up short of the green. He chipped up, but failed to convert a 10-footer for par. His 6-iron from 180 yards out on No. 4 (par 5, 575 yards) struck a car and beamed into the right-side rough. Pocino, 17, didn’t recover to match Cooley’s bogey.
“There was a yield to golfers sign, but the car crossed,” Pocino said. “That definitely rattled me a little bit. I really struggled on the front nine. My iron shots weren’t very good.”
Pocino thought he could mount a comeback on the par 5, 496-yard No. 9. After watching Cooley smoke his second shot onto the green, Pocino felt he needed to be aggressive, so he attempted to power his 4-iron 210 yards, but it splashed into the water hazard. Pocino made par on the next five holes, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a steady Cooley. Nevertheless, Pocino feels proud of the way he competed in his first GAP tournament.
“It feels really good. I hit the driver really well this week, so I was happy about that,” Pocino said. “I played well enough to get this far.”