Reichert posts only under par round at Cedar Lake to win Junior Championship
CLAYVILLE, N.Y. -- With a crowded leaderboard after the first round, Wednesday’s final round of the NYSGA Junior Amateur Championship at Cedar Lake Club in Clayville set up to be an exciting, hard-fought competition that didn’t disappoint.
After nine holes of play Wednesday, a handful of players separated from the pack and the scramble for the title heated up. In the end it was Ben Reichert, who shot a tournament-best 1-under 71, who took home the championship by edging out James McHugh, and first-round co-leader Tommy Mandel Jr. by one stroke.
Reichert finished with a two-round total of even-par 144, but it was his 8-foot par make on the par-4 18th hole that turned out to be the winning stroke.
“I hit a few loose shots early,” said Reichert, a senior at Williamsville North High School, who will play golf at Division I East Tennessee State in 2016. “But, I calmed myself down with a birdie on five and made the turn 1-over for the day.
“I knew Mandel was under par, so I told myself that I needed to make three birdies on the back. I did that, but also made a bogey on 17, so it all came down to making an 8-to-10 footer on the 18th hole. I thought if I made that I would win, and if I missed I would likely be in a playoff.”
Mandel, playing on his home course, began his round at even par and extended his lead early in his round. He then got to 2-under par after birdie on the par-4 10th hole and had a three shot lead. Mandel then bogeyed his next three holes to fall back to 1-over-par and behind Reichert, who made birdies on 14 and 15.
“I was playing really well and got to 2-under,” Mandel said. “I had a bad layup on 11 that ended up behind a tree, so I had to chip out, and putter went dead for those three holes. I putted great most of the day, but my I missed some makeable putts coming in.”
While Mandel was fighting to steady himself, McHugh was making a charge of his own. The 17-year-old out of Rye Country Club, birdied the par-3, 13th, and then chipped in for eagle on the par-5 14th to get back to even for the tournament and put some pressure on Reichert, who played in the same group.
“I made bogey on 10, and knew I was 3-over for the tournament,” McHugh said. “So, I knew I had to make a move, and I did with that birdie and eagle. But, then I gave strokes right back by making bogey on my next two holes.”
Trailing Reichert by three strokes after 16 holes, McHugh made one last push by nearly driving the 342-yard, par-4 17th hole. After Reichert missed an 8-foot par putt, McHugh knocked in his birdie putt to move to within one shot of the lead.
Meanwhile, Mandel played steady golf over his final four holes, but was unable to make a tying birdie, despite giving himself some solid chances. His best came on 17, where he edged a six-foot birdie putt that would’ve tied Reichert.
“I had six feet and I read a little break, but it was a dead straight putt,” Mandel said. “It rolled just over the right edge. That was a big one.”
McHugh still had a chance to tie Reichert on the 18th, but left his approach long and his birdie attempt over a ridge just missed and he settled for par and a tie for second.
“I came in hoping I could win and had high expectations,” McHugh said. But I’m not disappointed at all with the way I played and where I finished.”
Mandel had one last chance to catch Reichert, but his approach was long and his two-putt par left him tied for second.
“Overall it was a solid week,” Mandel said. “I hit the ball really well. I also want to thank all the guys from Cedar Lake for coming out and supporting me.”
Reichert also came into the week with high expectations.
“I knew coming in that if I played well, I’d be right there in the end,” Reichert said. I played solid and got the result I wanted. It’s probably the biggest win of my career.”
Marc Holtzhauer was solo fourth with a 147 total. Evan Gaesser, Mike May Jr., Colin Dubnik and Noah Doucette finished at 148 and tied for fifth. Danny Gianniny and Gunnar Doyle, who shared the lead with Mandel after the first round, finished tied for ninth at 149.