August 6th, 2014 ~ Story by Cody Paladino, Director of Media Relations
The 13th Northern Junior Championship concluded today at New Haven Country Club, as Will Bernstein and Elizabeth Bose captured one shot victories in the Boys and Girls Championships, respectively. With gusty northwest winds and some precarious pin locations, the competitors quickly realized why New Haven CC has withstood the test of time as a championship venue.
In the Boys Championship, overnight leader Will Bernstein of New York, New York captured the title with a clutch birdie on the par 5 18th hole, posting rounds of 67 and 72 for a one under par total of 139. After holding a narrow one shot lead heading into the final round, he found himself in a four way tie at the top of the leaderboard standing on the final hole.
“I knew I had to make birdie to win, so I just played the hole aggressively. After three good shots I left myself about an eight foot putt. It was a left-center putt, I hit it firm and just hoped it would go it. It did.” Bernstein showed little emotion after sinking the dramatic clinching putt but after signing his winning scorecard, his beaming smiling told the whole story.
Bernstein struggled early in the final round carding bogeys on holes 7, 8, and 9, but was able to regroup and tackle the difficult back nine at New Haven CC in even par, good enough for the one shot victory. “I’ve been thinking in three hole stretches lately, just trying to play each three hole stretch in even par or one under par. After making those three bogeys in a row, I tried to forget about it and have a good three hole stretch on holes 10-12.”
After faltering last week down the stretch at the AJGA Philadelphia Junior, this week was a tale of redemption for Bernstein. “After such a close call last week it feels awesome to come out on top,” he said. “It wasn’t necessarily the conventional way to win, but it’s an amazing feeling and I’m so happy to end my junior career with such a big victory.” He’ll carry the momentum of today’s win and the title of Northern Junior Champion into his new college career at Yale University in a few short weeks.
Finishing runner-up to Bernstein at even par were Brock Kovach of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, Eric Austin of Northford, Connecticut, Christopher Simione of Cheshire, Connecticut, and 2013 Northern Junior Champion Evan Grenus. Kovach held the lead for most of the back nine but made a costly double bogey at the par 3 17th which dropped him back to even par. Kovach and Grenus both narrowly missed birdie chances at the closing hole which would have forced a playoff, dashing their hopes for the title.
Grenus was trying to become just the second player in Northern Junior history to capture back-to-back titles, a feat accomplished only by the late Ryan Lee (2007 and 2008) for whom the Ryan Lee Memorial Scholarship is named.
In the Girls Championship, Elizabeth Bose of Norfolk, Virginia carded the best round of the day to emerge victorious by one shot over Phoebe Brinker of Wilmington, Delaware. Bose carded rounds of 76 and 71 for a 147 total, seven over par, while Brinker matched her opening round 74 with another 74 on Wednesday, posting eight over par to claim runner-up honors. Bose’s final round of 71 amid blustery winds and treacherous greens included two birdies and three bogeys, serving as the exclamation point to another fine summer of junior golf.
“I’ve been doing a lot of traveling and playing in a lot of premier events, and it’s just been so much fun. This was my last tournament before school starts next week so it feels amazing to end the summer with a win,” said Bose.
Playing in the group behind Bose, Brinker made remarkable birdies on holes 15 and 16 to tie for the lead at seven over par, but made a costly bogey at the par 3 17th hole to fall back to eight over. Rather than constantly watching the leaderboards and standard bearers, Bose kept her eyes and attention solely on the shot in front of her, even down the stretch.
“I really only looked at the leaderboard on 18. Some different people told me I was in the lead but I was just trying to keep playing my best golf and stay in the moment.” Bose has verbally committed to play golf at Virginia Tech University beginning in 2015 while Brinker is just twelve years old. Quite the contrast of ages but both have surely proven that they can compete at the highest level of junior golf in the country.
Rounding out the top 5 in the Girls Championship were Julia Kemmling of Berlin, Connecticut who posted nine over par, followed by Krystal Knight and Katie Barrand, both hailing from Massachusetts.
This year marked the 13th playing of the Northern Junior Championship, an internationally recognized junior championship conducted in memory of Stan Trojanowski, who passed away in 2001 due to mesothelioma. The 2014 field featured players from 15 different states and provinces who had not reached their 19th birthday or entered college. More information about this year’s event can be found at NorthernJunior.com. A sincere thank you to the golf staff, maintenance crew, and members of New Haven Country Club for their support, and thank you to the countless volunteers and officials who helped to make this year’s Northern Junior a truly incredible event. Congratulations once again to Will Bernstein and Elizabeth Bose, champions of the 2014 Northern Junior.