*Match play brackets
*Day One results
*Day Two results
Honeybrook's Wren captures 63rd Junior-Junior Boys' Championship
MOORESTOWN, N.J. — R.J. Wren of Honeybrook GC rode a hot blade to victory in the 63rd Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship final Wednesday. The premium putter defeated a dedicated Jake Fazio of Huntingdon Valley CC, 7&5, at a sunny Moorestown Field Club.
“I didn’t play as well as I hoped to, but it was definitely an accomplishment to get this far,” Fazio, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said. “It’s big to get here to the finals. It means a lot to me. I played some pretty good golf, but I think I could’ve played a little bit better today.”
Wren flashed a fiery flatstick immediately when he converted an uphill 25-footer from the front fringe just to halve the first hole (par 4, 421 yards). He moved ahead for good on No. 2 (par 4, 413 yards). Fazio knocked a pitching wedge 110 yards into the left greenside bunker and plunged into sand peril. He exited the left only to enter the right and vice versa. Fazio conceded the hole to Wren, who reached the green in regulation.
Fazio improved his bunker play on No. 4 (par 3, 142 yards) by blasting out of the left obstacle to eight feet. His putt to save par stopped inches shy from the jar. Wren, meanwhile, controlled a chip over the lip to 18 inches and tapped-in to craft a 2-up advantage.
Fazio, an eighth grader at Murray Avenue Middle School, momentarily countered Wren’s putting wrath on No. 5 (par 5, 462 yards). He powered a 5-iron 190 yards to a swale just left of the green and nearly holed out for eagle with a 60-degree wedge. Fazio’s greenside grace served the 13-year-old well on the next hole (par 4, 407 yards). He again nestled a lengthy chip to a foot. The equally-polished Wren extricated himself from the left greenside bunker and canned a 25-footer to halve the hole and to ultimately harness Fazio’s momentum.
“I knew I had to make that putt going into the tough 7th hole,” Wren, an eighth grader at Twin Valley Middle School, said. “It just rolled the way I wanted to.”
Short in stature but not in spirit, Wren wrestled complete command by winning the next four holes. He guided a chip out of the right rough to eight feet on No. 7 (par 5, 536 yards) and saved par. Fazio missed a 10-footer after failing to reach the green in regulation. Wren drilled a 9-iron 106 yards to 30 feet below the No. 8 (par 4, 330 yards) flagstick. He executed an uphill right-to-left breaker for a fist-pumping birdie and a 3-up lead.
“I felt like I could make every putt,” Wren, 13, said. “I’ve been working a lot on my putting stroke. I’ve tried new putters and new grips, but I just went back to my old putter thinking maybe I’ll putt better. Everything just seemed to drop and everything felt good. It felt like the lines and speeds were just right.”
A frayed Fazio three putted the next two holes to fall into a five-hole deficit. A safe Wren made it official on the 13th hole of the match (No. 4). He fired a 5-hybrid to 25 feet. Fazio revisited the left greenside bunker with an 8-iron this time. He couldn’t exert enough club-head underneath his golf ball and went on to card a double bogey. Wren gingered in a bogey 4 to prompt a handshake and a hug from his father Russell.
“My family drove an hour and a half just to get here (to the tournament) three days in a row,” Wren said. “It’s just cool that they would take that time out of their day just to watch me play.”
Wren is officially the first Honeybrook GC member to win the Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship. Current member Chris Terebesi, who serves as secretary on the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Executive Committee, turned the task in 1973 representing Chester Valley GC. In fact, Wren heeded Terebesi’s advice throughout the tournament.
“Mr. Terebesi has been telling me every day to take it one shot at a time and to keep the same pace,” Wren said. “I listened to him and it’s been working.”