There’s so many options for junior golfers in the summertime, it’s surprising this type of thing doesn’t happen more often.
Matthew Hanzel of Running Deer Golf Club found out over the weekend that his partner for the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s Francis X. Hussey Memorial Monday at Rolling Green Golf Club was double-booked and wouldn’t be able to make it.
Practicing at Valleybrook Country Club Sunday, Hanzel ran into Dan Murphy, a pal of his older brother who is a cart guy, among other duties, at Valleybrook. Hanzel wondered if Murphy might be available to tee it up at Rolling Green Monday.
After fighting some tough traffic conditions to get to Delaware County Monday morning – the pair arrived 12 minutes before their tee time – Hanzel and Murphy could do no better than a hurried bogey on Rolling Green’s first in the better-ball-of-partners event.
The rest, though, is Francis X. Hussey Memorial history. The pair ripped off six birdies over the 6,281-yard, par-71 William Flynn gem, site of the 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur, for a 5-under 66 that gave them a three-shot victory over the pair of Greg DeLuca of Makefield Highlands Golf Club and Chris Benvenuto, a Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour entry, in the Junior Boys division.
Hanzel, a 16-year-old from Washington Township, N.J., immediately got that shot back as he knocked his 50-degree wedge from 120 yards away to three feet at the second and got the team back to even-par. Hanzel used that 50-degree wedge again to get his approach to the eighth hole to 12 feet and he then converted the birdie try to enable the Jersey boys to make the turn at 1-under.
When Hanzel buried a 35-footer from the fringe at the tough par-3 10th for birdie, the team was on its way.
Murphy, an 18-year from Sicklerville, N.J. and a recent Timber Creek graduate, stiffed his approach at the par-4 13th hole with a wedge and tapped in the two-foot birdie putt and they were 2-under.
That 50-degree wedge came in handy again for Hanzel as he used it to drop his tee shot at the short, par-3 16th to four feet and made the putt.
Murphy drilled a 3-iron just in front of the par-5 17th hole in two and chipped it to tap-in range for a birdie and Hanzel used that trusty 50-degree wedge one more time at the par-5 18th to get his approach to 20 feet and then watched his uphill birdie putt just tumble in the cup.
“On the back nine, we were putting a lot of wedges close, making putts and hitting a lot of fairways,” Murphy, who will attend Cabrini later this summer, told the GAP website.
DeLuca, a Neshaminy standout who finished third in the District One Class AAA Championship and went on to qualify for the PIAA Championship last fall, and Benvenuto had the early lead with a 2-under 69 before Hanzel and Murphy surged past them. Still, DeLuca and Benvenuto were the only other tandem to better par and finished a solid second.
Jack Habeeb of the Country Club of Scranton and Daniel Hinton of Elmhurst Country Club matched par with a 71 to finish alone in third.
Dan Curran of Merion Golf Club and Jack Fialko of Aronimink Golf Club and Henry Fish of Chester Valley Golf Club and Jack Davis of Aronimink finished tied for fourth at 1-over 72.
Christopher Buysse of Waynesborough Country Club and James Gradisek of Philadelphia Country Club finished alone in sixth at 2-over 73 and the pair of August Blatney of Philadelphia Cricket Club and Mark Ventresca of Cedarbrook Country Club took seventh with a 3-over 74.
Three teams – the Stonewall pair of Jack Murray and Will Blatchford, the Spring-Ford Country Club duo of John Straub and Andrew Fuhrman and the Whitford Country Club tandem of Keller Mulhern and Dylan Kochis – all landed on 4-over 75 and finished tied for eighth.
David Mester of The Springhaven Club and Matthew Quirk of Huntingdon Valley Country Club finished alone in 11th place at 5-over 76.
Andrew Damico of McCall Golf & Country Club and Jack Farkas of Llanerch Country Club and Drew Stern of Yardley Country Club and Andrew Gallagher of Laurel Creek Country Club shared 12th place, each pair carding a 6-over 77.
Only one Junior Girls team teed it up in the Hussey with Llanerch’s Riley Quartermain and Rolling Green’s Kathleen Mark posting a 77. Both were coming off solid freshman high school seasons with Quartermain making it to the District One Class AAA Championship in her first season at Haverford last fall and Mark playing a key role in helping Episcopal Academy capture the Inter-Ac League crown this spring.
Three teams posted a 1-over 37 in the Junior-Junior division – the nine holes measured 2,939 yards – with Nicholas Gross of Applecross Country Club and Harry Stone of Bidermann Golf Club emerging from the playoff with the victory.
Gross, an 11-year-old from Downingtown and a standout among the nine-holers on the Philadelphia Section PGA Junior Tour, drilled a 5-iron from 163 yards away on the first hole of the playoff to 15 feet and needed just a two-putt to deliver the title to him and Stone, a 13-year-old Kennett Square resident.
The other two teams that were involved in the playoff included Riverton Country Club’s Matthew Normand, the Junior Tour’s Sam Penecale Scoring Average Leader among the nine-holers during the 2016-’17 season, and Nathan Guertler of Tavistock Country Club and the Aronimink tandem of Grant Snyder and Nicholas Ciocca.
The McCall pair of Libby Fleisher and J.P. Hoban finished fourth with a 45.
The Hussey, in its 33rd year, honors the memory of Francis X. Hussey, a junior member at Rolling Green who suffered from a congenital heart condition. An avid sports fan, Hussey, who attended Haverford School District schools, died during major heart surgery at age 13 in December 1983.