Don’t look now, but that solid nucleus that Andy Achenbach had coming back from Radnor’s 2015 PIAA Class AAA championship team may be even stronger than anyone suspected.
Achenbach chose freshman David Colleran Jr. as the fifth player for the team that represented the Raiders at the District One and state tournaments. His score was thrown out in both instances, but he was there every step of the way as Brynn Walker, Michael Sydnes, Gabby Kim and fellow freshman Jake Calamaro led Radnor to the state title.
All but Walker will be back this fall. But the David Colleran Jr. that returns might be a little more confident player than he was last year.
Friday, Colleran became the first Overbrook Golf Club player to claim the Golf Association of Philadelphia Junior Boys’ Championship since Brad McFadden did it in 1991 as Colleran cruised to a 5 and 4 victory over Marty McGuckin, the Inter-Ac League individual champion at Malvern Prep in his senior season last fall.
“This is pretty special,” Colleran told the GAP website after capturing the 102nd edition of the Junior Boys at Tavistock Country Club in Haddonfield, N.J. “I know it’s a pretty big tournament. It feels good to put my name on the trophy along with all the others.
“(Coming into this week) I thought I was going to make it to the championship flight. I’ve been playing well for a few weeks. I thought I had a chance.”
Making the championship flight in this deep and talented field was no guarantee. Aronimink Golf Club’s John Updike began the week with a convincing victory in the Pennsylvania Junior Boys’ Championship at Hershey, but couldn’t make the championship flight at Tavistock.
There are a ton of talented juniors in the Philadelphia area right now and most of them were in the field at Tavistock. Colleran was the last one standing.
He faced a stiff challenge in Friday morning’s semifinals from Whitford Country Club’s Ryan Conners, a junior at Bishop Shanahan. Neither player held more than a 1-up advantage as the momentum swung back and forth in the tense match.
Colleran took a 1-up advantage with a birdie at 16 only to see Conners draw even with a birdie at 17. The match went to the 19th hole and Conners blinked first. He drove behind a tree, pitched out and then sent his approach over the green. Colleran was able to win the hole with a par and advance to the final.
Meanwhile, McGuckin, the senior leader on a Malvern Prep team that was a dominant Inter-Ac champion, cruised into the final with a 7 and 6 victory over Indian Valley Country Club’s Dawson Anders, a senior at Souderton.
McGuckin, who plays out of the RiverCrest Golf Club and Preserve, saw his putter desert him early in the championship match and Colleran took full advantage.
Colleran won the first three holes with pars, the last coming when he dropped a tough six-footer. He added to his advantage by taking the sixth with a bogey and the ninth with a par. When his 10-foot birdie try at the 10th tumbled into the cup, Colleran had a 6-up advantage. He was well on his way to seeing his name engraved on the Peg Burnett Trophy.
The win also puts Colleran on top of the standings for Junior Player of the Year, an award that has been living a few miles down Lancaster Avenue from Radnor High at The Haverford School for the last four years. The Fords’ Max Siegfried won it last year and Cole Berman swept three in a row before that.
Hayden Rousselle of Lookaway Golf Club claimed the first-flight title with a 3 and 2 victory over Akhil Giri of Laurel Creek Country Club.
The Doylestown resident reached the final with a 1-up victory over Zachary Barbin, a GAP Junior Players Club entry. Giri claimed a 2-up victory over Whitford’s Wills Montgomery in the other semifinal.