The Ridge at Back Brook’s Massimino wins 99th Junior Boys’
RINGOES, N.J. — When The Ridge at Back Brook’s Roland Massimino learned his home course was hosting the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Junior Boys’ Championship, he immediately signed up. The opportunity to compete amongst the region’s rising stars on familiar surroundings seemed advantageous to the Lumberville, Pa. resident.
Massimino validated that hunch Thursday, defeating Riverton Country Club’s Kevin Kramarski, 6&5, in the tournament’s 99th final at The Ridge of Back Brook (par 72, 6,570 yards). He is the first player to win the event on his home course since Robert Galbreath, Jr. turned the task at Huntingdon Valley Country Club in 2008.
“It’s great to win a tournament of this magnitude,” an excited Massimino, 16, said. “I know how big of a tournament it is and all of its history. I knew I had a good chance because it was on my home course. I played a lot of golf in the last three days, and I played pretty well the whole time. Kevin’s a great player. I knew it’d take a lot to beat him.”
“I’m pretty proud,” Kramarski, 17, of Moorestown, N.J., said. “I generally played OK. As the week went on, my putting got better and better. In the final match, I kind of lost that and mishit a few shots. He just kept taking advantage of those opportunities.”
Massimino sure did. On No. 7 (par 5, 568 yards), Kramarski, an incoming senior at St. Joe’s Prep, lost his grip on a 5-wood shot from 270 yards. As a result, his golf ball landed in front of an obstructing rock and forced a sideways chip onto the fairway. Massimino executed a routine par to grab a 3-up lead. He captured Nos. 5 (par 5, 521 yards) and 6 (par 4, 394 yards) thanks to a pair of birdies. Massimino hit a 9-iron 163 yards to 15 feet on the first, a wedge 110 yards to four feet on the latter.
“I felt very comfortable today,” the incoming junior at New Hope-Solebury High School said. “Every time I got over a shot, I knew I was going to hit a good shot. It kind of all just came together when I needed it.”
Massimino’s edge extended to 4-up after Kramarski’s drive on No. 10 (par 4, 263 yards) plummeted into the water hazard. He moved to 5-up with a birdie on the par 5, 531-yard 11th hole, smashing his second stroke — a 5-iron from 195 yards — to 20 feet above the flagstick. The water woes continued for Kramarski on No. 12 (par 3, 173 yards) as he saw his 8-iron splash. A sea of supporters swarmed Massimino after he sealed victory on No. 13 (par 4, 358 yards).
“Everybody from the club here wished me good luck and congratulated me,” he said.
Now the Peg Burnett Trophy is Massimino’s keepsake from his GAP debut.
“It’s a big thing for confidence, to know that you beat some of the best players in the region,” he said. “It’s a good feeling."
Kramarski defeated friend and fellow 2012 Williamson Cup teammate Jalen Griffin of Talamore Country Club, 4&3. Griffin, who set a scoring record in the event’s qualifying round Tuesday, missed a string of three-footers to halve holes, which contributed to the match’s outcome.
“All of my strengths [the previous two days] were my weaknesses today. All of a sudden I couldn’t make a putt,” Griffin, 17, of Ambler, Pa., said. “It was an absolutely awesome week. I learned a lot from the experience and a lot about my game.”
Massimino needed a rally to upend Fox Hill Country Club’s Mariano Medico, the tournament’s defending champion, in 20 holes. He won two the last three to force overtime. On the 20th hole (No. 2, par 3, 125 yards), Massimino converted a six-footer for birdie while Medico’s attempt from nine feet dove right in closing seconds.
“I thought I had it right in the heart,” Medico, 17, of Shavertown, Pa., said. “This is the first week of the year where I came into a tournament thinking I can win. This week was a big boost for me.”
Sam Gallen and Evan Thornton grew up playing golf at Berkshire Country Club. They were in the same graduating class at Wyomissing High School. And as it turns out, the two competed against each other for the First Flight title Thursday.
“I was really excited for it because we’re so use to playing together, and I knew it would be a good contest on this course,” Gallen, 18, of Wyomissing, Pa., said.
“Obviously I was looking forward to it,” Thornton, 18, also of Wyomissing, added. “It’s the last time we get to play in this tournament together.”
Thornton defeated his good friend and chauffeur (Gallen drove the duo to The Ridge at Back Brook all three days), 4&3.
“I can’t say it’s bittersweet. I would’ve been happy even if I would have lost,” Thornton, who finished as runner-up in the Championship Flight a year ago, said. “I’ll definitely buy him a meal. He deserves it.”
“You should be a politician,” Gallen said.
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 143 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.