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July 10, 2014

Kevin Conners, Jr. rips a drive on No. 11 (par 5, 541 yards).

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Whitford’s Conners claims 15th Christman Cup at St. Davids

  WAYNE, Pa. — Kevin Conners, Jr. knew a tournament victory existed deep down. His rising game just needed to meet a friendly venue to bring it out.

  The Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Christman Cup, presented by Global Golf Post, served as the event, St. Davids Golf Club (par 70, 6,387 yards) the venue for a Conners breakout Thursday. He carded a 1 under 139 to capture the tournament’s 15th edition by two strokes. A late charge allowed Burlington Country Club’s Blaine Lafferty to secure runner-up status.

  “It feels great. I’ve been pretty close the last couple of years,” Conners, 17, of Downingtown, Pa. “It was good to know where I was going into the second round and to play well when the pressure was on. It’s a pretty good field, so I knew if I just played my game, I had a shot. It’s definitely nice to get one.”

  Tough scoring conditions and challenging green complexes made a subpar score seem out of reach for the 77-player field early on. Round One presented a field scoring average of 79.7. Conners, a Whitford Country Club member, shared the clubhouse lead with six others at 2 over.

  “I played much better than that, so I knew if I just played the same and rolled in a few more putts, I’d be fine,” he said.

  Another reason for Conners’ optimism? The Donald Ross design suited his style.

Blaine Lafferty

  “Right now, I’m just striking my irons really well, and you need to be on the proper side of the green here,” Conners, a Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine Player to Watch in 2014, said. “I was hitting most of targets into the greens. I play really well on tight courses where you need to hit it straight.”

  Conners separated from a jumbled pack in the afternoon session. On No. 2 (par 4, 431 yards), he pumped a 5-iron 185 yards to 10 feet for a 3. He stopped a pitching wedge at six feet for a birdie on No. 6 (par 3, 144 yards). Conners powered a 3-iron 215 yards to 30 feet lipped a left-to-right breaker for eagle on the par 5, 490-yard No. 8. A 3 under outward tour put Conners four clear of all chasers.

  “I actually wasn’t thinking about my score too much,” he said. “I knew to win tournaments, you can’t really wait for the field to come back to you; you have to keep your foot on the pedal.”

  Conners, an incoming senior at Bishop Shanahan High School, pressed that pedal to the floor. He stuffed a 5-iron to three feet for a birdie on No. 10 (par 3, 166 yards). On the downhill par 5, 541-yard 11th hole, a dialed-in and determined Conners launched a 4-iron from 220 yards to 25 feet below a front hole location and cozied the eagle try into kick-in range.

  However, Conners wasn’t the only one hurdling hopefuls on the leaderboard. Lafferty, who started on No. 10 (par 3, 166 yards), bolted up to 1 over thru 27 holes thanks to birdies inside 10 feet on Nos. 17 (par 3, 153 yards) and 18 (par 4, 378 yards). He smacked a sand wedge 100 yards to five feet for a 3 on No. 3. At the point, Lafferty, who will attend the University of Delaware in the fall, stood at 1 over.

  Meanwhile, a “bad swing” resulted in a bogey for Conners on No. 12 (par 4, 450 yards) and changed his lead to three. It dropped to two after Conners’ watched his pitching wedge peel off the false front on No. 14 (par 3, 116 yards). On the other side of the golf course, Lafferty gave a shot back on No. 7 (par 4, 460 yards), but recovered with a dazzling eagle on No. 8, where he holed out from the front bunker.

  “I had a clean lie and just tried to land it halfway between the hole and the cup,” Lafferty, 18, of Marlton, N.J., said. “It just rolled up to the lip and dropped right in. I figured I’d probably need a birdie on the last hole.”

  Lafferty came close to one. Although he pushed a 4-iron right on No. 9 (par 3, 220 yards), Lafferty, a semifinalist in the Junior Boys’ Championship two weeks ago, then saw his next shot deflect off the flagstick and stop six feet from the hole. He missed the ensuing par putt. Conners exhaled.

  The victory marked his second on the GAP circuit. Conners won the Junior-Junior Boys’ Championship in 2010.

  The Christman Cup is named in honor of J. Fred Christman, a longtime Director of Competitions for the Golf Association of Philadelphia who retired in January 2000. It is a 36-hole stroke play event.

Golf Association of Philadelphia
  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 150 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.

Results

Name, club

Rd 1

Rd 2

Total

Kevin Conners, Jr., Whitford Country Club

72

67

139

Blaine Lafferty, Burlington Country Club

73

68

141

Trey Croney, Overbrook Golf Club

72

72

144

Mark Benevento, Jr., Greate Bay Country Club

72

74

146

Connor Goodrich, Merchantville Country Club

74

74

148

Liam Murphy, Hartefeld National

74

74

148

Mike Bliss, Jericho National Golf Club

78

70

148

Max Siegfried, Aronimink Golf Club

75

74

149

Brock Kovach, Berkshire Country Club

72

77

149

Jalen Griffin, Talamore Country Club

75

74

149

Michael Reed-Price, Sunnybrook Golf Club

72

78

150

Benjamin Kotler, Squires Golf Club

74

76

150

Griffin Colvin, Concord Country Club

72

78

150

Michael Burns, Jr., Overbrook Golf Club

76

74

150

Davis Mitchell, Wilmington Country Club

77

74

151

Matthew Bastian, Jr., Rolling Green Golf Club

77

75

152

Gary McCabe, Jr., RiverCrest Golf Club & Preserve

72

80

152

Sam Soeth, White Manor Country Club

76

76

152

Thomas Fisher, North Hills Country Club

75

77

152

Ryan Cleary, Wilmington Country Club

73

79

152

Jack Quirk, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

77

76

153

Paul Mauer, Stonewall

77

76

153

J.B. Bradbeer, Merion Golf Club

78

75

153

Brian Isztwan, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

76

77

153

Nicolas McCook, Applecross Country Club

79

74

153

Daniel Altieri, Hopewell Valley Golf Club

74

80

154

Gregory Szrom, GAP Junior eClub

76

79

155

Evan Brown, Hartefeld National

74

81

155

Jacob Klaus, Tavistock Country Club

79

77

156

Kevin Kramarski, Riverton Country Club

79

77

156

Carlos Fullerton, Brookside C.C. of Allentown

77

79

156

Peter Bradbeer, Merion Golf Club

84

72

156

Cody Fitzpatrick, Commonwealth National Golf Club

78

78

156

Joshua Madarang, Applecross Country Club

78

78

156

Matthew Ade, Riverton Country Club

81

76

157

John Foley, Spring Ford Country Club

74

83

157

Brandon Raihl, Heidelberg Country Club

79

78

157

David Gall, Riverton Country Club

79

78

157

Ben Litt, Riverton Country Club

79

79

158

Liam Lafferty, Burlington Country Club

75

83

158

Tyler Sokolis, Commonwealth National Golf Club

82

76

158

Chris Binet, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club

84

75

159

Jack Henderson, Gulph Mills Golf Club

82

77

159

Jacob Hanzel, Running Deer Golf Club

83

76

159

Brian Zinman, Saucon Valley Country Club

84

75

159

John Barone, Glenmaura National Golf Club

83

77

160

Andrew Willner, Phoenixville Country Club

82

79

161

Drew Guarino, Old York CC at Chesterfield

79

82

161

Tom Gravina, Aronimink Golf Club

79

83

162

Brad Ebersole, The Ridge at Back Brook

83

79

162

Blake Kurtzman, Bala Golf Club

79

83

162

Otis Baker, Gulph Mills Golf Club

81

81

162

Patrick Boyle, Metedeconk National Golf Club

89

73

162

Justin Elwell, Running Deer Golf Club

85

78

163

Ryan Bree, Fieldstone Golf Club

84

80

164

Jack Gregor, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

87

78

165

Jake Fazio, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

81

84

165

Jay Losty, Merion Golf Club

83

82

165

Phillip Held, Jr., Blue Bell Country Club

84

81

165

Drew Petri, Jericho National Golf Club

83

83

166

Jake Sitzler, Burlington Country Club

85

81

166

Greg Welsh, Talamore Country Club

81

85

166

Matthew Cleary, Wilmington Country Club

86

81

167

Eric Carlidge, North Hills Country Club

84

83

167

Ryan Bowman, Aronimink Golf Club

83

86

169

David Pontari, Whitemarsh Valley Country Club

83

87

170

Troy Thierolf, Commonwealth National Golf Club

82

88

170

Frankie Brigidi, Philadelphia Cricket Club

84

87

171

Austin Dunlap, St. Davids Golf Club

87

84

171

Michael Duffy, Saucon Valley Country Club

89

83

172

Hugh Farris, Huntingdon Valley Country Club

84

93

177

Ryan Brennan, Rolling Green Golf Club

86

92

178

Ryan Zinsky, Burlington Country Club

93

85

178

Patrick Rafferty, Jr., Blue Bell Country Club

89

93

182

Austin Bond, Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club

88

97

185

Kyle Kost, Lookaway Golf Club

85

WD

WD

Trey Swanson, Penn Oaks Golf Club

78

WD

WD

WD - withdrawal

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