Wilmington’s Mitchell wins 65th Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship
CHERRY HILL, N.J. — Wilmington Country Club’s Colman Mitchell is the type of golfer who lets his game do the talking. On Wednesday, it screamed loud enough to emit tremors through the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Junior-Junior archives.
A steady Mitchell defeated a resilient Phillip Bancroft, III of Trenton Country Club, 2&1, to capture the 65th Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship at Merchantville Country Club. He is the fifth player to win both the Jock MacKenzie Memorial and Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship in the same year.
Overbrook Golf Club’s Michael Kania accomplished the feat in 2004 at Merchantville, ironically enough.
“That’s really awesome. I didn’t know that,” an excited Mitchell, 11, of Wilmington, Del., said. “It just feels awesome to win this tournament. Thanks to Merchantville for having us, and just having my brother (Davis) on the bag was amazing. That was a big help.”
“He’s worked hard at it. He deserves it,” Davis, 15, added. “He’s playing at a high level, and he’s very consistent. We’re a good team.”
Glistening dawn dew and temperatures in the high 70s painted a friendly landscape for the final. Both players sparred for hole victories and critical halves before Bancroft equalized the contest on the par 3, 140-yard 12th hole. Holding tee honors, Bancroft drilled a 5-iron into the left greenside bunker. Mitchell’s hybrid screamed at the flagstick, but landed into a difficult lie in the rough some 60 feet from the hole location. He nestled a chip to 12 feet.
“I thought it [the tee shot] was on it the whole way,” Colman, a soon-to-be sixth grader at The Tatnall School, said.
“We were really close on the putt,” Davis said. “We were deciding on two different lines, and we picked the one on the right side and it nicked the edge. He hit a good putt.”
Meanwhile, Bancroft exploded out of his sandy circumstance and swept in a five-footer for 3. However, trouble on the next two holes afforded Mitchell the upper hand. Bancroft snipped a 5-iron from 120 yards into the hazard on No. 13 (par 4, 320 yards) while his opponent executed a routine par. After Bancroft’s drive on the 14th hole (par 4, 321 yards) found the left rough, he attempted to negotiate an obtrusive tree with 5-wood, but his golf ball bounced off the bark. With a solid wedge game in his corner, Bancroft pulled to within one on the par 3, 185-yard 15th hole. He missed the green left with a driver and lofted a wedge to eight feet. Mitchell deposited a 3-wood into the left greenside bunker and failed to get up-and-down.
“I felt like I had a chance to win it after that,” Bancroft, an incoming seventh grader at Newtown Friends School, said.
The finalists found the No. 17 (par 4, 343 yards) fairway — with Mitchell’s golf ball seven yards behind Bancroft’s. Playing first, Mitchell hit a hybrid 160 yards into the left greenside bunker. Bancroft then pulverized a 5-wood even farther — into the back left bunker. He exhausted two strokes in the extrication process. Mitchell splashed out to four feet and sent in a fist-pumping title putt.
“It was great to be in the final,” Bancroft, 12, of New Hope, Pa., said. “I thought I could’ve hit my bunker shots a little better.”
The Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship is open to players from Member Clubs who are 10 to 13 years of age. This year, the event underwent two changes. The Association condensed its four eight-player brackets into two match play grids, and on the event’s first day, players competed in stroke play qualifying as well as a first-round match.
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.