Aronimink’s Siegfried cherishes Christman Cup victory at Gulph Mills
KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. — Winning a Golf Association of Philadelphia Junior Major is an achievement Max Siegfried’s envisioned for awhile now. His desire to do so is evident in his demeanor on the golf course — passion permeating in every swing.
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Dreams became reality Thursday. Siegfried, an Aronimink Golf Club member, carded a 4-under-par 138 to capture the 16th Christman Cup presented by Global Golf Post at Gulph Mills Golf Club (par 71, 6,443 yards). Saucon Valley Country Club’s J.T. Barker and North Hills Country Club’s Eric Carlidge tied for second at 142.
The Christman Cup is a 36-hole stroke play event.
“I’m really happy. This is one I really wanted to win badly,” Siegfried, 17, of Villanova, Pa., said. “Finishing second in the [GAP] Junior Boys’ and second in the [Pennsylvania Golf Association] Junior...I kind of used that as motivation to work harder.”
Siegfried outworked the 78-player field Thursday.
The venue, plus a surging golf game of late, enhanced desire, ethic and optimism. Siegfried is a senior at The Haverford School and plays on its golf team, which calls Gulph Mills home. He beamed with exuberance when the Golf Association of Philadelphia announced the Christman Cup site for 2015.
“My eyes lit up,” Siegfried said. “I knew I had a really good advantage coming in with all of the golf I’ve played here. I know this course like the back of my hand. I love this place so much. It’s in perfect condition all the time.”
Siegfried, a Golf Association of Philadelphia Magazine Player to Watch in 2015, emerged as the event’s 18-hole leader with a modest even-par 71. A pair of bogeys preceded a pair of birdies.
Starting on the back nine in the day’s first group, he failed to get up-and-down from the left greenside bunker on No. 13 (par 4, 407 yards). Siegfried hacked out a buried lie on No. 1 (par 4, 413 yards), bopped a 58-degree wedge to 15 feet and missed the par putt. Red figures on Nos. 5 (par 4, 398 yards) and 8 (par 4, 347 yards) quelled the miscues. He punched an 8-iron 155 yards to 25 below the flagstick and converted a right-to-left breaker on the first. A 55-yard wedge to eight feet yielded a birdie on the latter.
In the afternoon, Siegfried feasted on familiar turf and kept the battalion at bay. He birdied three of his first five holes to lengthen his lead. On No. 3 (par 4, 456 yards), Siegfried lambasted a 5-iron 180 yards to three feet. He followed with 50-degree wedge to four feet below the flagstick on the picturesque par 3, 107-yard No. 4. With a fiery flatstick finally complementing consistent approach shots, Siegfried lifted a pitching wedge 130 yards out of the right rough and deposited an eight-foot slider for a 3 on No. 5 (par 4, 398 yards).
As was the case in the morning, Siegfried’s basket could’ve been more bountiful.
“It could’ve been five (birdies) in a row, but I’ll take that,” he said. “I lipped a 10-footer on No. 2. On No. 6, I stuffed a 7-iron to eight feet and just missed it.”
Siegfried didn’t miss his target on the gettable No. 8 (par 4, 253 yards). His drive landed on the green and darted into a bed of rough directly behind the flagstick. Siegfried, eliminating flop-and-fly risk, nudged an eagle putt to three feet for birdie. Bunker hopping — right fairway, front left and back — on No. 9 (par 4, 371 yards) brewed Siegfried’s first bogey of the afternoon. He reclaimed the stroke by firing a birdie on the next hole (par 4, 410 yards). Seeing a line identical to the morning round, Siegfried drained a downhill 15-footer after knocking a 50-degree wedge 126 yards. He held a four-stroke edge over Barker and a charging Carlidge at that point.
Siegfried extended that margin with a stupendous 3 on the par 4, 400-yard 16th hole. He whacked a pitching wedge 120 yards to 15 feet and experienced an oddity.
“This putt was wiggling around. I didn’t think it was going in,” Siegfried said. “It hardly gets there. This thing just stops on the edge. I’m like, ‘Ah, I didn’t make it.’ Then [playing partner] Peter [Bradbeer] tells me, ‘Put your shadow over it.’ I waited five seconds and it dropped.”
The challenging par 3, 214-yard 17th hole left Siegfried’s emotions as topsy-turvy as a lawn chair in a hurricane. He caught the left greenside bunker with a hybrid. Facing a firm lie, he flew the green, bumped a wedge to eight feet and saved bogey. Siegfried, with an ever-evolving mental game, relied on comfortable grounds and a collected caddie in Ryan Bowman to complete the task at hand.
“He’ll make some good jokes out there and keep me not as stressed out. It was great having him on the bag,” Siegfried said.
“So many people have helped me. Cole [Berman, reigning Patterson Cup and BMW Philadelphia Amateur Champion] has been a huge part of this. He’s helped me practice more than anyone I know. He’s been with me through my lows and highs. I want to thank him. I’m glad a win finally came.”
A career-best 68 in the afternoon propelled Carlidge to co-runner-up honors. It marked his first-ever round in the 60s.
“It feels really good, especially to do it on this stage,” Carlidge, 17, of Ambler, Pa., said. “My shoulders are open, and I closed them yesterday when I played North Hills and shot 72. I just brought it over today.”
Carlidge, a rising senior at La Salle High School, totaled 11 putts on his inward tour.
Playing in the day’s last group, Barker, 18, of Bethlehem, Pa., closed with a 2-under-par 69 to tie Carlidge.
“Overall, I’m pleased,” Barker, who will attend Northampton Community College in the fall, said. “I would’ve liked to finish first. I left a lot out there.”
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