Mercer Oaks’ Giovi wins 67th Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship
WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Louis John Giovi never led the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 67th Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship Final, but it didn’t matter. He only needed superb play on the last three holes to defeat Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s Patrick Isztwan, 1-up, for the title Wednesday at West Chester Golf & Country Club (par 35, 2,783 yards).
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Giovi is the first Mercer Oaks Golf Course member to win the Junior-Junior. Isztwan, meanwhile, was looking to erase a longstanding Huntingdon Valley drought. The club’s fielded nine runner-ups, zero champions.
“It’s pretty cool,” an excited Giovi, 12, of Orlando, Fla., said. “It was a fun tournament. I really enjoyed it. Getting to know the kids that I played against and making new friends was really fun for me.”
“Today, it just didn’t fall my way,” Isztwan, 12, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., said. “I was leading the whole match and just lost the last three holes. I didn’t strike the ball well on the last three holes. I was hitting it really well the whole match.”
Isztwan maintained a 2-up lead thanks to a crucial halve on the par 4, 342-yard 15th hole. For his fourth shot, he faced a delicate lie beside a flagpole behind the sunken green. Isztwan ran his chip 30 feet past and rolled the ensuing putt over a ledge and into the cup.
“I was surprised it went in, but it was nice,” Isztwan, a rising seventh grader at William Penn Charter School, said. “I thought that once I made that, then I could just halve the rest of the holes and win the match.”
“It didn’t really affect me. It just affected how I looked at the situation,” Giovi, a rising sixth grader at Bridgewater Middle School, added. “I said, ‘Now I really have to rally.’”
That he did.
On No. 16 (par 3, 154 yards), Giovi hit a 27-degree hyrbid and two-putted from 15 feet out of the left fringe. Meanwhile, the ghosts of Huntingdon Valley’s past irritated Isztwan. He pulled a 4-hybrid left and swept under the ensuing chip, leaving it in the left greenside bunker. The par 5s, an early Isztwan ally, quickly turned enemy. He lost the 480-yard 17th hole after missing the green short with a 6-iron from 140 yards. On the match’s 18th hole (par 3, 148 yards), Isztwan rifled a 4-hybrid over the green. With a trying lie, he attempted to chase a downhill chip close, but failed to execute it firmly. Isztwan missed a 10-footer to save 3. Meanwhile, Giovi found the narrow surface with a 23-hybrid and guided a left-to-right 12-footer into tap-in territory to complete the comeback.
“My caddie Ray [Pyontek] said just get it up there to a foot, and that’s what I did,” Giovi said. “He helped me stay calm and focused. My mindset down the stretch was, ‘Don’t get angry. Stay calm, focused and in the moment,” My dad always told me check your ball position, your posture and your alignment, so that’s what I was thinking.”
As mentioned, the par 5s aided Isztwan’s control of the contest. He birdied No. 1 (par 5, 442 yards) following a half gap wedge shot from 60 yards to 15 feet. On the 480-yard No. 8, Isztwan hit a pitching wedge 100 yards to seven feet for a four. However, Giovi swiped that par 5 proficiency with a birdie on the match’s 10th hole (No. 1), knocking an 8-iron 120 yards to six feet.
Giovi, formerly of Ewing, N.J., relocated to Florida late last summer. He maintains a membership at Mercer Oaks and returned to the area this month to compete in a few tournaments, including the Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship. The past two days, Giovi indulged in Wawa quesadillas post golf.
The meal will keep that celebratory mode.
“I feel relieved,” Nolan, 11, of Glenside, Pa., said. “I was 3-up going into the 10th hole. When he won a hole, I just won the next one.”
“I didn’t play well in the qualifier, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could make it farther,” Civitella, 13, of Berwyn, Pa., said. “It was awesome. It’s my last year [of eligibility].”
Nolan points to the par 4, 342-yard No. 6 as highlight. He hit the flagstick with a gap wedge and canned a two-footer for a win.
Civitella is a rising seventh grader at Tredyffrin/Easttown Middle School, Nolan a sixth grader at Copper Beech Elementary School.
Golf Association of Philadelphia