|*Harry Hammond Award Standings|
Scrantonâ€™s Reach birdies final hole to nab Christman Cup title
EXTON, Pa. â€“ Playing in only his second Golf Association of Philadelphia event, Nicholas Reach of the Country Club of Scranton birdied the 36th hole to take home the 2008 Christman Cup title in stunning fashion at Whitford CC (par 71, 6,539 yards) Friday.
The Moscow, Pa., resident carded a 1-over-par 73 in the morning round only to come back strong with seven birdies in his final 18 holes to post a 4-under-par 68 in the afternoon, good for a two-round total of 3-under-par 141.
"Itâ€™s just amazing," said the 16-year-old of winning the event over an impressive field. "The competition was so great. Iâ€™m just so excited."
But amazing could be the best way to describe Reachâ€™s final-round work with the flatstick.
The high school sophomore-to-be rolled in birdies from just about everywhere including a back-to-back-to-back stint on hole Nos. 15 (par 4, 407 yards), 16 (par 5, 525 yards) and 17 (par 3, 178 yards).
"I was putting unbelievably in the second round," he said. "I made everything."
But it was Reach who started to believe after his birdie on the 17th hole, his 26th hole of the day as he started on the back nine in the afternoon.
The relatively unknown player carded a two after poking a 5-iron 15 feet left of the hole and draining the hard left-to-right breaking putt.
"After I made that putt [on No. 17] I thought to myself â€˜Man Iâ€™m really in this,' " Reach said. "It was a good curler."
Knowing that Robert Galbreath, Jr., the four-time Junior Boysâ€™ Champion, was already in the clubhouse at 2-under-par 142 and that Warren Taylor of Yardley CC was making an impressive late charge of his own, Reach knew that all he had to do was finish at even par for the remaining four holes.
But after an errant drive on No. 8 (par 4, 386 yards) caused the Scranton Prep golfer to make a bogey, plans changed. Reach now needed a tough birdie on the par 5 9th for the victory.
"I knew that Rob [Galbreath] was 2 under for the day so I knew that I had to birdie my final hole to win," he said of his thoughts on No. 9 tee.
Reach pulled his drive a tad left on the bending 9th hole and was forced to lay up in front of the pond. From there he knocked a 56-degree wedge eight feet past the hole, leaving a tricky downhill putt for the title.
Reach surveyed his putt even more than usual, sent it in for birdie and said afterward that knowing the magnitude of that stroke "absolutely" helped him drain it.
"I just had to get it started," he said of his downhill birdie putt on No. 9. "And it went in."
Warren Taylorâ€™s (76-69) 145 showing included a spectacular eagle on No. 9 during his remarkable final round in which, at one point, he stood at 6-under-par through 16 of his final 18 holes.
Galbreath, who also eagled the ninth hole in his first round, finished second giving him the lead in the Harry Hammond Award standings going into the final event, the Jock MacKenzie Memorial set to take place on July 21 at Sandy Run CC.
The Harry Hammond Award is given to the player with the lowest aggregate score in the qualifying round of the Junior Boys' Championship, the Christman Cup and the Jock MacKenzie Memorial.
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 136 Member Clubs and 56,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. The purpose of the Association is simple: To promote, protect and preserve the game of golf in the region.