It proved to be a pretty memorable day yesterday for the HJT players and spectators who joined us at Eagle Ridge Golf Club for so many reasons.
An afternoon full of great golf, battling qualities and determination in abundance, no fewer than 7 players in the field shooting impressive scores in the 70’s and even after 18 was played we still had to head back down number 1 for not one, but TWO extra hole playoffs in an effort to separate no fewer than 4 of our “all square after 18” tied players. It was exhausting just trying to keep up with everything that was going on….and did we mention our players were competing in 100*f temperatures with little sign of a breeze to help?
It’s now become customary to welcome new players most times we play and yesterday we welcomed 8 year old Brantley Flannery to his first ever Highlander Tour event and in fact his first ever 18 hole competition. Brantley is a very popular, outgoing and impressive young player who is showing great potential even at such an early age. Before he played he told me what his target was and I was not at all surprised to see him achieve it! Along the way he even achieved his first competition birdie with a fine 2 on number 4. Well done Brantley from everyone at HJT, it was a great debut and your smile at the end tells us you enjoyed the experience!
Eagle Ridge is in good shape right now and that clearly helped many to post a good number. The following will tell you in Flight order a little about our winners yesterday and some of the impressive highlights of others along the way.
The Claret Jug Flight:
As many of you may know we recently launched our new flight; The Claret Jug Flight is named after the famous and historic British Open Trophy. This Flight is populated with previous winners only who have picked up 3 or more HJT wins this year. HJT is a junior development tour and it is of real importance to us that we keep providing a strong challenge to ALL of our players regardless of age or stage of development they may be at.
Players in this flight WILL all still play from their own designated tee box and from the yardage that suits their age. By doing so it should ensure EVERY player in the group should have a fair and equal chance of winning by posting the lowest score. One thing is certain..it will be a very competitive flight.
We hope too that all players in the remaining Flights will now view The Claret Jug as a challenging target and as they achieve the required three wins of their own they too will gain promotion to The Claret Jug Flight.
Yesterday was a good example of how we think the addition of this new Flight has already helped to keep things challenging and competitive as we witnessed some of the best and most exciting play we have seen for some time from a number of players.
Yesterday our Claret Jug Flight was all about two exceptional young players. Jack Panigoni and Nick Zarillo, both multi- medal winning HJT talents. Early on it looked like Nick was in full control following a 3 birdie -1 front nine just as Jack was struggling to get going early on. However if you know either of these players you know both have a level of determination and resilience, gained through years of competing at a high level, that keeps them believing that things can quickly swing back their way if they just keep focused and playing to the best of their ability.
The back 9 proved this theory to be absolutely true as Jack fought back with his own -1 over those finishing holes and Nick was unfortunate to drop a few strokes over the closing holes including a lost ball on the last. When the scores were counted both players had recorded a 75 and a play off beckoned.
And so it went on…for 4 additional holes! Neither player could be separated from the tee as drives found fairways and putts were holed…just as it looked like Jack would take it after 3 holes Nick hit back by holing a nerve jangling long putt to square it once again! Heading up 18 for the second time it took an impressive birdie from Nick to finally take the medal as Jack made par.
What a match for those lucky enough to see it….Jack and Nick thank you both for providing us all with such excitement..it was awesome to see you both playing at such a fine level together!
Congratulations Nick on the win from everyone at HJT…this one probably feels like your best yet as it took everything you had to get it over the line. Well done!
The Old Tom Morris Flight:
Our 16-18’s and this is ALWAYS a great Flight to watch. It never fails to throw up excitement and competition and yesterday was no exception. In fact if not for an extremely unfortunate 3 putt on 17 for one of our previous medalists (Brian Eckert-81) all of our players in this Flight yesterday would have shot less than 80. That’s what you call a good strong golf competition!
We do want to mention another couple of notable contributions though. First up is Trenton Waters, a long standing HJT competitor who yesterday played some of his best and most consistent golf, Trenton had 15 pars on his card yesterday and shot a 76. Well played Trenton, we certainly think that deserves to be recognized!
Owen Ingram from Celebration, FL joined us for the first time last week and we are extremely pleased to see him back again, this time with dad Tim on his bag to offer a little caddie advice and what a way to start with an impressive level par 36 on the front nine and a final tally of 75 (+3). Well played Owen!
Two players yesterday in this flight SHONE brightly! Both of them share similar on course abilities, they know each other’s game well and they both possess a strong desire to compete and improve. What’s also great to see is neither appear to take things too seriously…if things go wrong they don’t react or lose concentration, they have the ability to put a bad shot behind them and move on and this is the kind of resilience we love to see on the golf course. Incidentally they are both very good friends who are very supportive of each other.
Yesterday Jonathan Ring and Hunter Lewis both carded the day’s lowest score of 73 (+1). Jonathan’s round was all about strong consistent golf enjoying 3 birdies along the way and an impressive -1 under back nine. Hunter, on the other hand, had to dig really deep after a +5 front nine just to stay in contention. What then followed for him was SPECIAL…a back 9 total of only 32 strokes (-4) which included 4 birdies brought him right back into the game. In the end it took a strong finish from Jonathan to stop Hunter taking the medal on 18 with a rather special shot of his own into 18.
Our second extra holes play off of the day went down the first two holes and it remained all square as each player continued to show their character and resilience. It was impossible to separate them until the 3rd play off hole when Jonathan took his opportunity to strike and after 21 holes he took the win by a single stroke. Well done to both of you for providing everyone watching with some exceptional play and great moments throughout the day… we would also like to take this opportunity to commend you both not only on how you played but also on the spirit in which you both play our great game…it was indeed SPECIAL!
Congratulations Jonathan from everyone at HJT. We are pleased to announce that your win now means you too will be joining our Claret Jug Flight in future competitions having achieved 3 medal wins on Highlander Junior Tour. Well done!
The Young Tommy Morris Flight:
Our 12-14 year olds compete in this Flight. 6 young players (boys and girls) were both in the mix for this one. It proved to be a tough scoring day even for some of our regular HJT players and this left the door open for a bit of a head to head between AJ Burns and Trace Kirkland.
Both of these young players love to play and compete. Both are improving and developing quickly and we can’t wait to see just how far they can go…Trace is having his most consistent year yet and we are really hopeful that he can keep building on that consistency by playing regular High School and competition golf. AJ too has shown us on a number of occasions this year that he has the talent required to be a consistent winner, he is a formidable opponent in many ways and seems to grow taller each time we see him!
Trace had the Flight lead by just one stroke after the first nine holes but was unfortunate to hit a rocky patch in the back nine where he dropped a few strokes leaving the door open for AJ. Fortunately AJ had his best patch through the same holes showing great consistency and making steady pars on six of the last nine holes to take the win carding an 83 .Trace kept it really close with an 85.
Congratulations to AJ from everyone at Highlander Junior Tour on getting the win and the medal.
The Bobby Jones Flight:
Our youngest 18 hole competitors and yesterday this one was made up of players aged between 8 and 11 years. It is interesting to note that our Claret Jug Flight is having an effect across all existing flights including this one. Developing junior golfers will never be an exact science as they are ALL different…their abilities can be noticeably different too so in that respect the only thing you can be sure of is they need to be challenged in golf wherever possible.
Our Flight winner yesterday shot a 79 and was a little disappointed with it. He said he could have taken at least 6 shots off that score! His name is Bobby Jones Potash and he’s 8 and he played from 4600 yards. Incidentally when he say he could do better he’s not being clever or big headed about it…he’s just NOT that kind of kid! He’s stating facts, he knows he can do better than that and we love that about him!
Bobby won his 3rd HJT medal yesterday and we are delighted to now promote him up to Claret Jug Flight status, incidentally the reason he has only 3 is down to the fact we have often played him from longer tees to help him gain a little extra experience and he has been happy to be challenged in that way even if it hasn’t meant going home with a medal.
Bobby’s 79 was enough to win his flight convincingly yesterday by 10 strokes. He is a talented young many who is respectful and works hard to get better. His potential is there for all to see and we enjoy every opportunity we get to see him play, the challenge now for Bobby, and we know he will rise to it, is to keep doing what he’s doing in a Flight full of serial winners that all deserve to be there!
We can’t wait for the opportunity to arise to get all of our best competing against each other, and if I was to hazard a guess, I’d say some of our older players MAY just be a little concerned at the prospect of going head to head against wee Bobby!
Congratulations Bobby from everyone at Highlander Junior Tour on your win and welcome to The Claret Jug.
Thank you Eagle Ridge GC, our players and spectators for coming along. We appreciate everyone’s support. Next up we return to Eagle Ridge next Saturday August 8th to play the “opposite 18” holes (Masters and Memorial) followed by a trip to Harbor Hills on Saturday 15th and then Red Tail in Sorrento on the 22nd. We hope you can attend as many as possible.
Registration is open and more info can be found on all upcoming events by clicking HERE
Keep golfing safely everyone.