Chapman Leads Han by Two Heading into Junior Final Round

July 26, 2016

HAMILTON – Christian Chapman and Nathan Han proved Tuesday why they’re two of the top junior amateurs in the state.

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Chapman fired an impressive 4-under 68 and Han shot 2-under 70 to post the only under-par rounds during a breezy opening round of the 74th New York State Junior Amateur at Seven Oaks Golf Course.

Kyle Gilroy and Jeremy Sisson are tied for third after carding 1-over 73s. Thomas Davis, Matt Dreimiller and Danny Gianniny are tied for fifth after shooting 2-over 74s.

Chapman, from Victor, began his round on the 10th hole and got hot midway through his opening nine. After playing his opening four holes at 1-under par, Chapman made five birdies in a seven-hole stretch to go to 4-under for the tournament. He made two bogeys and two birdies coming in to post his 68.

“I putted awesome today,” said Chapman, who made birdies on Nos. 15, 17, 18, 2, 3, 5 and 9. “My ball striking was really good as well. I gave myself good looks at birdie, and I was feeling it with the putter. It was a good day all around.”

Chapman, who won the Section V (Rochester area) high school title, knows he’ll have to play well to hold off Han and the other players atop the leaderboard.

“Two years ago I had the lead with five holes to go, but unfortunately I was unable to finish it off,” said Chapman, who will be a senior this fall at Victor High School. “I’ve been in situations like this before. There are other guys who can fire good rounds, so to cap it off, I’ll have to play another good round. My dad always says ‘this is just halftime.’ So I know I still have another half to go.”

Aside from a tough lip-out on his final hole – the par-4 9th – Han also had his best stuff Tuesday. The 15-year-old from Somers made four birdies and two bogeys on his 2-under round. Han birdied Nos. 15, 18, 5 and 6 to go along with bogeys on 9 and 14.

“Overall I struck the ball really well,” said Han, who finished second in the 2016 New York State Public High School Championships at Cornell University’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Course.

“I made the putts I needed to make and didn’t make many mistakes on the golf course.”

Han gave himself numerous birdie chances with stellar iron play during his first round and knows it will likely take the same type of effort Wednesday if he hopes to come away with the title.

“I’m going to try to do the same thing I did today,” Han said. “Put the ball in the right spots … especially on the greens. If you’re on the wrong side of the hole, it makes it very tough. I need to be in the right spots on the greens. That will be crucial.”

With 18 holes to go on a challenging layout, this tournament is by no means a two-player race. Gilroy, Sisson, and anybody near par will have a chance with a good round Wednesday.

“It will probably take a 68 or so,” said Sisson, who made four birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey during his first round. “It will be a similar mindset, but if I can get into the final group, I think it will help because then I can put pressure on and it becomes more like match play … and I like match play.”

Sisson will get his opportunity as he will be in the final group along with Chapman and Han. They begin their final rounds at 2:30 p.m. off the first tee.

Gilroy would’ve been much closer to the lead, if it weren’t for a four-putt double bogey on the par-4 17th.

“I really should’ve been in red figures,” Gilroy said. “I had a 15-foot birdie putt and missed it. I had three feet left for par and a car went by with the music blaring, so I backed off. … But I really didn’t regain my concentration and three-putted from three feet.

To Gilroy’s credit, he did bounce back to birdie the par-5 18th to finish at 1-over for the day. Gilroy finished second in the Boys’ Division in 2014 and will be a junior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School. He carded four birdies, three bogeys and a double Tuesday and still is in the mix heading into the final round.

Chris Lee, Frederic Shi and Austin Fox are tied for eighth at 3-over. Evan Sitts, David Goldstein, Teddy Trosset and Jeremy Summerson – the 2015 Boys’ Division champion – are tied for 11th at 4-over par.

--Nick Sardina, Mid-York Sports Report