Maine Junior Champions Crowned at Brunswick GC
Brunswick –The Maine Junior Championship is the third oldest championship conducted by the Maine State Golf Association, pre-dated only by the Maine Open and Maine Amateur Championships. Today at Brunswick GC, five talented young golfers added their names to the annals of Maine golf by besting the other competitors in their flights and earning the title of Junior Champion.
In the end, the top accolades went to Ryan Collins as the Boys champion, and Rachel Smith as the Girls champion.
Collins (Purpoodock Club) was in third after his opening round of 73, four shots behind overnight leader Mitchell Tarrio (Waterville CC). When he made the turn, he trailed by six shots, but kept grinding knowing there was a lot of golf left to play. He birdied the 10th – Brunswick’s traditional 1st hole – then birdied the 12th hole to draw closer to the lead. He got “up and down from the tall stuff” on 13 to keep his momentum. After a birdie on 16, coupled with Tarrio making three straight bogeys, the two were tied on the 17th tee.
Collins hit one “beyond right” on 17, but made a 3 on his second ball for what was a key bogey. “That bogey felt like an eagle,” he admitted.
With Tarrio in the fairway on the par-5 18th, Collins pulled driver and attacked the reachable par 5, despite a water hazard right and OB left. He striped one down the middle and was left with only 148 yards into the last. After hitting on in two and calmly two-putting for birdie, he watched as Tarrio missed his birdie, leaving the two finished after regulation tied at 144 (E).
The two went back to the 10th tee, and Tarrio hit his tee shot left into the woods, while Collins hit an iron down the middle. Tarrio took two to get out of the woods, and after Collins hit his iron shot twenty feet from the hole, the conclusion was almost imminent. Tarrio missed on his effort for bogey, which left Collins with an easy two-putt to claim the Maine Junior Championship in his last year of eligibility. After his round, the 18-year old from Cape Elizabeth who will head to the University of Pennyslyvania next year, summed up his efforts saying, “it’s nice to go out on top.”
In the Girls 16-18 flight, Smith (Val Halla GC) found herself six-over par through her first five holes in yesterday’s round and was seemingly out of the tournament early on before two late birdies on the front nine got her to five-over par. Smith went on to play her last 27 holes in one-under par to claim the Maine Junior Championship for the biggest win of her life. Her two round scores of 79-73—152 (+4) left her one shot clear of overnight leader Jordan Laplume (Dunegrass GC).
“My goal was to get it straight off the tee, get it on the green and two putt from there,” explained Smith. “I was just trying to shoot a respectable score.” She shot a respectable score indeed, carding the only under-par round of the championship among all girls in the field. The rising senior at Greely High School stood beside Brunswick’s clubhouse clutching her trophy after the round still in disbelief. “I’ve always wanted to win this one,” she said. “It feels so good.”
In the Girls 13-15 flight, overnight leader Mia Hornberger (Turner Highlands CC) built on her lead from round one and improved by four strokes to easily win. Her rounds of 87-83—170 beat runner-up and fellow Turner member Ruby Haylock by nine strokes.
The Boys 13-15 flight also saw the overnight leader bring home the crystal trophy given to each flight winner, as Bennett Berg (The Woodlands Club) shot a second round 75 to cruise to victory. Paired with his opening 81, Berg shot 156 to beat Ryan Stimson (Dunegrass GC) by seven strokes.
Lastly, in the 12 & Under flight, Owen Moore (JW Parks GC) bettered his runner-up finish from last year at Val Halla GC by winning his division this year. Playing Brunswick’s back nine for the second straight day, Moore carded 39-40—79 to beat runners-up Lucas Flaherty (Purpoodock Club) and Sebastien Martinez (Val Halla GC), who both shot 84.