A Junior-Junior Boys’ victory by LedgeRock’s Menon
PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. —Nate Menon of LedgeRock Golf Club inserted the final piece into his Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship puzzle Wednesday. The steadfast swinger overcame a focused Lukas Clark of Jericho National Golf Club, 6&5, to capture the tournament’s 64th edition at Phoenixville Country Club. Menon, of Wyomissing, Pa., opened his title quest by qualifying as the No. 1 seed and flourished with every golf task he faced.
“It definitely feels good,” he said. “Last year, I played pretty well in the quarterfinals and lost in the semis. It feels good to keep it going and see it through.”
“I’m a little disappointed, but it’s good coming in second place,” Clark, 13, of Holland, Pa., said. “I feel like I can learn from my mistakes in this tournament, so that’s a good thing.”
Familiarity and friendship framed the Championship Flight final. Clark and Menon compete in U.S. Kids Golf events together. They were roommates for two weeks during a visit to Hank Haney’s Golf School. Given their history, Menon’s victory felt a bit bittersweet.
“Right now, I’m ecstatic, but I’ve never felt worse winning to beat Lukas,” Menon, an incoming eighth grader at Wyomissing High School said. “I don’t think either one of us had our best days, but I was able to scrap it around and make some pars.”
“I couldn’t pick anyone else to lose to,” Clark, an incoming eighth grader at Holland Middle School, added.
Clark first wore that par-scrapper badge to gain an immediate lead over Memon, who missed the No. 1 (par 4, 344 yards) green left with a 4-iron from 150 yards and failed to get up-and-down. However, Menon, who exhibited strict discipline and patience throughout the week, knew a plethora of golf remained. He used a four-hole stretch to fashion a sizeable advantage over Clark. Menon evened the contest with a routine par on the dogleg right No. 4 (par 4, 310 yards). On No. 5 (par 5, 456 yards), he landed a 9-iron from 105 yards onto a severe slope and watched his golf ball coast down to a foot for birdie. “I executed it perfectly and it stopped right next to the hole,” Menon said of the approach.
Clark plunged into a deeper deficit following difficulty on Phoenixville’s par 3s. Missed greens on Nos. 6 (170 yards) and 7 (212 yards) gave Menon a 4-up lead. Clark classified the difficult par 5, 376-yard No. 9 as a turning point. After steering a 3-wood from 200 yards into a tree-bundle at the base of a hill, Clark found his golf ball a few feet shy of the water hazard. He hit a low lob wedge that cleared the stream and stopped seven feet from the jar. Clark missed his birdie putt while Menon posted a fiery 4 after blocking an 8-iron right. Wins on Nos. 10 (par 4, 344 yards) and 11 (par 3, 145 yards) issued Menon a winner’s verdict. He becomes the first LedgeRock member to hoist the Junior-Junior trophy.
“It’s an honor to be at LedgeRock and to win it for LedgeRock,” he said. “[The Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship] is a really well-run tournament that was played on a great course here in Phoenixville.”
Billy Civitella of Aronimink Golf Club defeated James Gillespie, Jr. of Concord Country Club to win the First Flight.
“It feels great,” Civitella, 11 of Berwyn, Pa., said. “The driver was a little off, but it all came together today.”
“The first two days [this week] were good,” Gillespie, 13, of Glen Mills, Pa., said. “Billy played great today. I didn’t have it.”
Civitella, an incoming sixth grader at Tredyffrin-Eastown Middle School, leapt to a fast start, winning the first two holes en route to a 7&6 victory.
Brian Isztwan of Huntingdon Valley Country Club knocked off Rees Kirk of Tavistock Country Club, 5&4, to take the Second Flight.
“1t’s awesome. It feels great to finally win something,” Isztwan, 12, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Kirk, 13, of Haddonfield, N.J., said. “This is my last year playing in it. The first two years, I didn’t play well, but this year was a lot better. I have a lot more confidence now.”
It’s onto another Final for Isztwan, who will compete in Huntingdon Valley’s Junior-Junior Championship tomorrow.
“It gives me a lot more confidence,” Isztwan, an incoming seventh grader at Penn Charter, said.
In the Third Flight, Matthew Brennan of Rolling Green Golf Club was declared the victor. His opponent, Greg DeLuca of the Philadelphia PGA Junior Tour, was disqualified.
Now in its 64th year, the Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship is open to players from Member Clubs who are 10 to 13 years of age. Phoenixville Country Club last hosted the event in 2003.
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 145 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.