Ben Pochet figured to be one of the favorites in qualifying Monday for the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s 103rd Junior Boys’ Championship, presented by PURE Insurance at Spring-Ford Country Club.
Pochet is a member at Spring-Ford and is coming off a solid performance in a U.S. Junior Amateur qualifier last week at Makefield Highlands Golf Club that earned him a ticket to Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover, Kan. for next month’s USGA event.
Last fall, Pochet won the District One Class AAA individual title at nearby Turtle Creek Golf Club and led Spring-Ford to the district team title.
Pochet lived up to those expectations by firing a 4-under-par 68 over his 6,362-yard, par-72 home track before afternoon thunderstorms forced play to be suspended at 3:15 p.m.
The players who did not complete their rounds will return to the course at 9 a.m. Tuesday and complete their rounds with the top 16 finishers qualifying for match play. The first round of matches will follow as soon as the match-play bracket is established.
It’s possible Pochet’s 4-under total will not hold up for medalist honors, but he could sleep easily Monday night with the knowledge that he’ll be make match play in the championship bracket.
Huntingdon Valley Country Club’s Connor McGrath stands at 3-under through nine holes and Zachary Barbin, a GAP Junior eClub member and a Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour regular from Elkton, Md., is 1-under through four holes.
Pochet’s knowledge of the greens at Spring-Ford was evident right out of the gate as he rolled in a double-breaking 60-footer for birdie on the first hole.
“Spring-Ford is fun,” Pochet, who will join Ben Feld’s Drexel program after his senior season at Spring-Ford, told the GAP website. “I just like coming out here to play nine holes with some of my friends. We get together on the golf course pretty often. I like it a lot. If I have to be honest, I’d probably say I should take a little bit more time off.”
Pochet had three more birdies on the front nine. He rolled in a 15-footer after hitting a gap wedge out of the fescue on the left side of the hole from 110 yards at the third, wedged one from 95 yards to 10 feet and made that at the sixth and dropped a wedge from 80 yards six feet from the hole at the par-5 ninth and converted that putt.
His only blemish of the day came at the seventh when he missed the green and couldn’t get a five-footer for par to fall.
He dropped in a tough, 15-foot downhiller for his final birdie of the day at the 10th to get to 4-under and parred out from there.
The other players who completed their rounds Monday will have to sit and wait Tuesday to see if they make the sweet 16 who qualify for the championship bracket.
Jonathan Lumley, a teammate of Pochet’s on Spring-Ford’s District One championship team last fall who is moving to Florida this summer, carded a solid 1-over 73.
Several scholastic standouts finished at 2-over 74, including recent Lower Merion graduate Alex Golland, another Spring-Ford member, Whitford Country Club’s Ryan Conners, the runnerup to Pochet at districts for Bishop Shanahan, Downingtown East’s Wills Montgomery, playing out of Applecross Country Club, Caleb Ryan, who was a PIAA Class AAA qualifier as a sophomore at Norristown last fall, and Souderton’s Dawson Anders, playing out of Indian Valley Country Club.