By Bruce Berlet
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (June 27, 2019) – For the first six holes at Yale Golf Course on Wednesday, Tyler Woodward didn’t have much of an idea what was going to happen.
Woodward was all over the legendary course, hitting his drive into the fescue on the third hole and into the water on the fourth before three-putting the sixth green from 20 feet.
But on the eighth tee, Woodward had a little chat with himself, hoping to right the ship and get into contention for second consecutive berth in the PGA of America’s Junior Golf Championshipbeing played at Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford on July 30-Aug. 2.
Woodward couldn’t have imagined what would transpire on the back nine, as he made birdie, his first hole-in-one and two more birdies at the 12ththrough 15thholes to rally for an even-par 70 and 36-hole total of 3-over 143 that gave him a tie for second with Alex Aurora of Hamden in the Boys Junior Connecticut PGA Championship. Woodward and Aurora finished three strokes behind medalist Alexander Gu of Darien.
On the girls’ side, Emily Cohen of Darien (69) and Irene Wang of Athens, Ga. (71) tied for first at 144 but were not among the those attempting to qualify for the national championship because their residence and affiliation outside of the section. Julia Kashimura of Watertown birdied the 18thhole for 69-145 to grab first place in the national championship qualifier, one shot ahead of Angela Garvin of Feeding Hills, Mass. (71), who won the title a record-tying four consecutive years in 2014-17, and then lost a playoff to Sarah Houle last year.
Woodward, 18, of Durham shared second with Alex Aurora of Hamden, whose 69 for 143 was three higher than Gu, who spiced his 71 with an eagle 3 at the 16th hole to qualify for nationals for the first time after narrowly missing in his first two attempts.
“The front was tough. Everything was going wrong,” said Woodward, who didn’t start playing golf until five years ago when several friends introduced him to the game. “But then I had the talk, hoping to par the tough eighth and nine holes and then try to make some birdies on the back side. I get frustrated, but it doesn’t last, and I played well down the stretch.”
After pars at the 10thand 11thholes, Woodward hit an 8-iron to 8 feet for a birdie and then knocked a 6-iron into the cup on the 196-yard 13thhole. He capped his memorable streak with a wedge to 8 feet at the 14thhole and a 6-iron at No. 15 to 6 feet that led to a birdie and a total of three strokes on the two par-3 holes on the back nine.
“I was yelling for it to go,” Woodward said of his first hole-in-one. “It landed two yards short and fell right in. It was an amazing feeling. It was my first ace, so you always remember a shot like that.”
Woodward, who plays out of Lyman Orchards Golf Club in Middlefield, shot 139 a year ago to finish second to Christopher Fosdick, who got an exemption into the nationals this year. Working with friend Jack French helped Woodward improve his game, and he was the No. 1 player on the Coginchaug High School team in Durham that went 16-0, won the Shoreline Conference title, and tied for first in the CIAC Division IV Championship. Woodward finished second in the conference tournament, third in the state championship, and won the CIAC State Open for boys and girls in all divisions.
Gu, 17, who will be a senior at Darien High School, bogeyed the par-3 fifth and ninth holes and was still two over when he got to the 553-yard par-5 16th. A drive and 3-iron to 20 feet set up his eagle, and a bogey at the treacherous par-5 18thmerely reduced his margin of victory.
“Patience and being able to hit the fairways and greens in the correct spots were a big reason I did so well,” said Gu, who plays out of Tashua Knolls GC in Trumbull and Oak Hill Park GC in Norwalk. “Position on the greens is a necessity because you can have 60-foot putts out here and that’s never good.”
Gu’s 69 led after the rain-delayed first round, and now he’ll be playing in the national championship after his close calls the past two years.
“I was very frustrated to just miss in my first two tries, but now I’m really looking forward to the national championship, especially since it’s in Connecticut,” Gu said.
Gu finished fourth and third in his first two starts in this event but didn’t qualify because each of the 41 PGA of America sections get two spots in the nationals unless it is hosting the event, which gives them four berths. Gu and Darien High School finished second in both the FCIAC and CIAC championships and won the CIAC State Open.
Jeremy Yun of Old Saybrook birdied the last two holes for 69-143 and a tie for fourth with Jonathan Elkins of South Deerfield, Mass., whose 68 was the low round of the day. Yun then parred the first playoff hole to earn the fourth spot in the nationals, while Elkins became first alternate.
Will Lodge of Darien (69), Luke Willenborg of Southwick, Mass. (73) and Mitchel Schwab of Westport (75) tied for sixth at 145, but Schwab wasn’t among those qualifying for the nationals. Lodge became second alternate when he parred the first playoff hole against Willenborg.
Jared Walter of South Windsor (74) tied Michael Hanratty of Avon (71) for eighth at 146, and Walter birdied the second playoff hole to earn fourth alternate with Hanratty getting the fifth spot.
The girls’ competition was just as dramatic.
Wang’s opening 73 gave her a two-stroke lead that she maintained through 13 holes before a strong showing by Cohen left them tied after regulation. Cohen birdied the 14th, 16thand 17thholes while Wang could match her only on No. 17, leaving them tied with a hole to go. Each bogeyed the 18thto finish at 4-over 144.
Cohen, 18, who will be a freshman this fall at Elon University in Elon, N.C., then birdied the second playoff to win the overall title. She attributed much of her success to a practice round Monday with Barry Troiano, who used to work at the course.
“He’s my coach, teacher and inspiration,” said Cohen, who spent the last two years at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. “He gave me some great advice about club selection and being in the right position around and on the greens. I followed my game plan really well and trusted my swing. And I love playing Yale. It’s such a pleasure to play and like a wildlife sanctuary.”
Cohen plans to play in the Junior Girls North-South Championship Friday through July 3, at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C., and the Connecticut State Women’s Amateur Championship July 24-25, at Oronoque Village Country Club in Stratford. She also hopes to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship on Aug. 5-11, at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss.
Wang, who sandwiched this event with tournaments in Virginia and Vermont, said she was a little nervous in the playoff because it was the first time that she had gone extra holes in stroke play.
“It’s usually match play, so this was a little different,” Wang said. “I started well (two birdies in the first four holes), and my driving and irons were good. But it was disappointing to miss the 10-foot putt (for par) on the last hole.”
Kashimura, 16, who will be a junior at Taft School in Watertown, advanced to her first national championship after losing a playoff to Garvin for the second and final spot last year.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Kashimura said. “I couldn’t go last year, so I really wanted to do it this time.”
Kashimura, who won the 2018 New England Girls Prep School Championship, said her putter was the main reason that she attained her goal and earned No. 1 among those eligible for the nationals when she made a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 18.
“I hit the ball similar to what I did yesterday (76), but I made most all of the makeable putts that I looked at today,” she said. “I had missed good birdie chances on 16 and 17, so I really wanted to make the one on 18. I was keeping Angela’s scorecard, so I knew I needed the last putt to beat her.”
The other two girls to qualify for the nationals were Sophia Sarrazin of Westport, whose closing 68 was the low score of the girls’ tournament and gave her 147, one ahead of Alexsandra Lapple of Ridgefield (73-148).The course played par-70, 6,403 yards for the boys and par-70 for 5,430 yards for the girls.
The tournament was a prelude to the Boys and Girls Junior PGA Championships that will be played at Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford. The girls will compete July 9-12, while the boys will tee it up July 30-Aug. 2, in two of junior golf’s major championships.
Those events will feature 144 of the best male and female junior golfers from more than 40 states and several countries.
For more information about the national championships, visit JuniorPGAChampionship.com and follow @JuniorPGAChamp on Twitter and Instagram.
For volunteer information, visit ctpga.com/foundation/get-involved/volunteer/
FINAL Results: 2019 Boys Junior Connecticut PGA Championship
1 Alexander Gu Darien, CT 69-71–140 E
T2 Tyler Woodward Durham, CT 73-70–143 +3
T2 Alex Aurora Hamden, CT 74-69–143 +3
T4 Jeremy Yun Old Saybrook, CT 71-73–144 +4
T4 Jonathan Elkins South Deerfield, MA 76-68–144 +4
T6 Will Lodge Darien, CT 76-69–145 +5
T6 Luke Willenborg Southwick, MA 72-73–145 +5
T6 Mitchell Schwab Westport, CT 70-75–145 +5
T9 Michael Hanratty Avon, CT 75-71–146 +6
T9 Jared Walter South Windsor, CT 72-74–146 +6
11 Kyle St.Pierre Shelton, CT 74-73–147 +7
T12 Jacob Lindsay Berlin, CT 75-73–148 +8
T12 Mac Mahoney West Hartford, CT 74-74–148 +8
T12 Leo Hsieh New York City, NY 72-76–148 +8
T15 Bennett Ostern Weatogue, CT 76-73–149 +9
T15 Kevin Allard Longmeadow, MA 78-71–149 +9
T15 Yu Fung Cyrus Lee Lake Mary, FL 72-77–149 +9
T18 Michael Sosik Fiskdale, MA 80-70–150 +10
T18 Matthew Doyle Madison, CT 76-74–150 +10
20 Cole Hahn Avon, CT 74-77–151 +11
T21 Jackson Roman Kensington, CT 78-74–152 +12
T21 Calvin Smith Darien, CT 78-74–152 +12
T21 Tommy Dallahan Ellington, CT 78-74–152 +12
24 Jack Bosworth Simsbury, CT 79-74–153 +13
T25 Jack Livingstone West Hartford, CT 79-75–154 +14
T25 James Whiteley Easton, CT 78-76–154 +14
T25 Luke Stennett Portland, CT 78-76–154 +14
T25 Charlie Duffy Trumbull, CT 78-76–154 +14
T25 Kevin Morris Hamden, CT 74-80–154 +14
T30 Gregory Gouvin West Suffield, CT 83-72–155 +15
T30 Chris Camerlin Longmeadow, MA 79-76–155 +15
T30 Colin Barrett Avon, CT 74-81–155 +15
T33 Diego Saavedra-Davila San Juan, PR 84-72–156 +16
T33 John Soltys Ware, MA 82-74–156 +16
T33 Vasily Konachenkov Wallingford, CT 79-77–156 +16
T33 Robert Lachance Jr West Hartford, CT 79-77–156 +16
T33 Bradley Sawka Ellington, CT 74-82–156 +16
38 Jake Ivan-Pal Milford, CT 75-82–157 +17
T39 Billy Nail Cos Cob, CT 83-75–158 +18
T39 Max Chubet Southington, CT 82-76–158 +18
T39 Dominic Manning Somers, CT 80-78–158 +18
T39 Christopher Magliocco Riverside, CT 79-79–158 +18
T39 Garrett Brown West Hartford, CT 79-79–158 +18
T39 Grant Hamilton Pawcatuck, CT 77-81–158 +18
T45 Ryan Downes Longmeadow, MA 83-76–159 +19
T45 Jack Godin Wilbraham, MA 81-78–159 +19
T45 Christopher Lang Ridegfield, CT 78-81–159 +19
T48 Kevin Lynch Haddam, CT 85-75–160 +20
T48 Peter Meehan Fairfield, CT 83-77–160 +20
T48 John Guerrera Farmington, CT 82-78–160 +20
51 Ethan Kalk South Glastonbury, CT 82-79–161 +21
T52 Aidan Stuart Madison, CT 89-73–162 +22
T52 Austin Carta Plantsville, CT 81-81–162 +22
54 Samay Govani South Windsor, CT 80-85–165 +25
55 Kyle Camello Coventry, CT 85-83–168 +28
56 Luke Karpiej East Haddam, CT 82-92–174 +34
57 Charlie Dolan South Glastonbury, CT 88-87–175 +35
FINAL Results: 2019 Boys Junior Connecticut PGA Championship
1 Emily Cohen Darien, CT 75-69–144 +4
2 Irene Wang Athens, GA 73-71–144 +4
3 Julia Kashimura Watertown, CT 76-69–145 +5
4 Angela Garvin Feeding Hills, MA 75-71–146 +6
5 Sophia Sarrazin Westport, CT 79-68–147 +7
T6 Tiffany Wu Hong Kong, HI 76-72–148 +8
T6 Alexsandra Lapple Ridgefield, CT 75-73–148 +8
8 Mary Li Athens, GA 79-72–151 +11
9 Mia Scarpati Norwalk, CT 76-79–155 +15
T10 Meghan Mitchell New Canaan, CT 78-79–157 +17
T10 Nicole Chan Kent, CT 75-82–157 +17
T12 Caroline Petchark Waterford, CT 83-75–158 +18
T12 Alia Godek Feeding Hills, MA 81-77–158 +18
14 Nathalie Benrey Atherton, CA 82-78–160 +20
T15 Mia Hidalgo Cheshire, CT 81-84–165 +25
T15 Sydney Hidalgo Cheshire, CT 81-84–165 +25
T15 Alexandra Fox Ellington, CT 78-87–165 +25
18 Emily McKenna Wethersfield, CT 90-82–172 +32
19 Emma Michetti Monroe CT 86-88–174 +34
20 Milan Yorke Ansonia, CT 91-85–176 +36
T21 Molly Mitchell New Canaan, CT 87-90–177 +37
T21 Ling (Sarah) Ji Athens, GA 84-93–177 +37
T23 Annie Dai Longmeadow, MA 89-89–178 +38
T23 Mia Grzywinski Farmington, CT 88-90–178 +38
25 Maggie Montalto Rocky Hill, CT 94-85–179 +39
T26 Elena Spangle Brooklyn, CT 91-89–180 +40
T26 Leslie Li West Hartford, CT 94-86–180 +40
T26 Camille Richmond Northampton, MA 91-89–180 +40
T26 Caroline Cermignani Glastonbury, CT 90-90–180 +40
30 Brooke Zajac Plantsville, CT 97-85–182 +42
31 Maren Livingstone West Hartford, CT 91-94–185 +45
32 Bailey McGuigan Trumbull, CT 91-96–187 +47
33 Jamie Andrade Milford, CT 98-91–189 +49
34 Elizabeth Dunn Berlin, CT 98-93–191 +51
35 Lydia Welborn Stamford, CT 102-95–197 +57
T36 Laniah Moffett Waterbury, CT 104-94–198 +58
T36 Lily Nguyen West Hartford, CT 99-99–198 +58
38 Emily Bonfiglio Agawam, MA 108-98–206 +66
39 Rachel Shepherd Fairfield, CT 106-112–218 +78
40 Catherine Peng Glastonbury, CT 114-123–237 +97