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Whitford's Conners clips HVCC's Quirk for Jr.-Jr. Boys' title

  WEST CHESTER, Pa. - Kevin Conners, Jr. of Whitford CC never relinquished an early lead and held off a feisty Jack Quirk of Huntingdon Valley CC to win the 62nd Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship Wednesday at West Chester G&CC (par 72, 5,538 yards).

KEVIN CONNERS, JR.
  In a match that featured more plot twists and head-scratching moments than Lost, Conners, of Downingtown, Pa., fired birdies on the opening three holes, erased shaky moments from his memory and posted a 2&1 victory.

  “It feels really good,” Conners said. “I barely got to the championship, but I was really proud to get there. It feels good now that I’ve won. There are a lot of good players that have won it in past years. It’s the best of the best of the (GAP) country clubs. I was at the top of my age group and felt I had a good chance.”

  Conners, 13, began the contest with a birdie barrage. He knocked his wedge 50 yards to six feet on No. 1 (par 5, 449 yards). His sand wedge cleared the upper tier of the No. 2 (par 5, 430 yards) fairway, and Conners drained an ensuing 10-footer. On No. 3 (par 3, 116 yards), he stuck his pitching wedge to 10-feet and cleaned up the under-par chance.

  “I had the right club and the perfect yardage on the tee,” Conners said.

  Quirk played solid golf out of the gate as well, making par on the first three holes. But it wasn’t enough to counter Conners’ surge.

  “I wanted to make pars, and up to the fifth hole on my back nine, I was even-par for the day,” Quirk said. “But then I made four straight bogeys, and that just killed me.”

  Quirk, of Glenside, Pa., started to dig out of his three-hole deficit on the par 4, 366-yard No. 4 with a sound par save after his 9-iron from 120 yards found the left greenside bunker. Conners drilled his 9-iron 140 yards to 20-feet, but three-putted to card a bogey. He sweetened that sour situation by drilling his 9-iron 120 yards and draining a downhill 20-footer for birdie on No. 8 (par 5, 459 yards) to reclaim a 3-up advantage. The flavor quickly reverted on No. 9 (par 3, 158 yards) as Conners’ 5-iron caught the left greenside bunker. He failed to get up-and-down while Quirk, 13, smashed his 7-iron to 20-feet and two-putted for par.

JACK QUIRK
  The momentum tilted farther in Quirk’s favor on No. 12 (par 3, 116 yards). Conners left his pitching wedge barely beyond the front bunker, chipped up and pulled his five-footer past the cup. Quirk’s 52-degree wedge put him within makeable and effective two-putt territory. Conners could’ve avenged that loss one hole later after Quirk sliced his 3-wood into the right-side trees and clipped a branch with his 7-iron punch-out attempt. He then pierced his 52-degree wedge 130 yards and two-putted for bogey. Conners rolled his downhill 45-footer for birdie to five-feet, left his par putt short and watched his tap-in bogey try burn the right edge. The match became All-Square with five holes left to play in regulation.

  “After that, I thought I might get some momentum,” Quirk, an eighth grader at Norwood Academy, said.

  Quirk then morphed into his own worst enemy. He missed the No. 14 (par 4, 321 yards) left, knocked his chip to six-feet but slid his par putt past the jar. Conners’s two-putt par from 20-feet gave the Saint Joseph’s School eighth-grader a one hole lead. Quirk missed another six-footer for par on No. 15 (par 4, 333 yards) that would’ve evened the match. He expressed frustration after launching his 9-iron tee shot well left of the putting surface on No. 16 (par 3, 137 yards). Conners placed his 7-iron in the left bunker and couldn’t recover to save par.

  “I’ve had trouble with that par 3. I haven’t hit that green once out of five times,” he said.

  It didn’t matter, though, as Quirk bumped his second shot into that same bunker, blasted out and left his bogey effort short. Conners sealed victory on No. 17 (par 5, 459 yards), a hole at which he seemingly overloaded with strategy. Quirk sprayed his drive into the left-side trees while Conners’ tee shot settled in the right side of the fairway. Conners, who played his shot first, elected to negotiate the dogleg right par 5 with a 3-wood. It traveled less than 70 yards and prompted Conners to smash his 5-wood 165 yards to the right of the green. Conners implemented his aggressive approach based on Quirk’s position.

  “I didn’t think he would punch out,” Conners said. “I thought he would go 3-wood. He can hit that green.”

  Quirk did punch out to the fairway. He laced his 5-iron 175 yards to the right of the green. With both players in nearly identical circumstances, a delicate chip and two-putt combination was all that Conners needed.

  “I think I played pretty good overall this week,” Quirk said. “Today, it came down to who was the better player, and it was Kevin.”

Championship Flight
Kevin Conners, Jr., Whitford CC d. Jack Quirk, Huntingdon Valley CC, 2&1
First Flight
Thomas Gravina, Jr., Aronimink GC d. Jake McGlone, Overbrook GC, 3&2
Second Flight
Mike Miller, Overbrook GC d. Christian Ritondo, Yardley CC, 5&3
Third Flight
Bobby Baker, Overbrook GC d. Phillip Held, Jr., Whitemarsh Valley CC, 2&1

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