This was our second visit to Continental Country Club this year. I’ve mentioned before that it does hold some significance for us as HJT started here in late 2019. It does feel good to return especially now as the course is in great shape and the feedback from players and parents is very positive.
This time around we had 21 players in attendance and as well as the medal wins for some that we will cover below there were some really great moments to enjoy too that were provided throughout the day by our junior golfers. On a day of good scoring one particular player, in fact one of our youngest, deserves a very special mention for his efforts.
Rhett Kirkland (Wildwood) broke his own best scoring record for 18-hole competitions and recorded a scintillating 38-41-79 at Continental. No fewer than 10 pars and a birdie helped make Rhett’s day very special indeed! Rhett has lots of fans among the staff here at HJT, he’s a wonderful young man with a great attitude and he fully deserves all the praise he received for that score. Well played Rhett!
There were many in the field on Saturday who played extremely well and the scoring reflects this. A total of 10 of our players broke 80 and flights were won with scores of 73, 75,76 and 79. Our lowest scorer in the field was Bobby Jones Potash (73)
As usual before we begin on the flight scores we like to mention our new players joining us for the first time. On this occasion we welcomed Kylan Johnson (Clermont) to his first HJT event. Kylan is clearly a very accomplished and talented young player who has a very strong game. His day at Continental was an interesting one with a mixed bag of a lot of fine play, and some frustrations too, and his 40-39-79 score was one that he felt could have been a little better however he did point out his plan was to have fun and enjoy the competition and he certainly did that.
Kylan, it was great to have you with us and we hope you enjoyed the experience and felt welcome? Hope to maybe see you at Mission Inn next week !
The Claret Jug Flight:
As the weeks progress we will see our Claret Jug Flight increase in numbers. For this one we had two of our 3+ medal winning players contesting the medal in this flight, 2020 Claret Jug Trophy runner-up Maggie Potash (Eustis) and the young man from Longwood, FL who has made a big impression since joining us in early 2021, Phoenix Wilson.
Each time we are able to include a Claret Jug Flight at any of our events we remind everyone that these are our top and most consistent performers. They are already flight medal winners on numerous occasions and now they are in a position where they have to perform against players of equal ability. Claret Jug medals are not generally won by anything other than low scores and this one was no exception!
Maggie found the start of this one tough. A couple shots dropped at the first and 3 more at 4 left her at +5 early on in this one. Despite her young years though Maggie has learned a great deal about being resilient and how fortunes can quickly change in golf. She is a true competitor and a fierce battler who can never be ruled out until the last putt drops, what followed was pretty special and showed battling Maggie at her very best as she went immediately from the disappointment of those early lost shots to making birdie at 5 and then followed it with no fewer than 10 straight pars and THEN another birdie at 16! In the end Maggie carded a 40-36-76. There was a lot of exceptional golf in there but, just as important, there was yet another opportunity for us all to see just how strong Maggie’s character and resilience can be under pressure!
I’ve said before, and will do so again, Phoenix Wilson is an exceptional young talent. Over the last 3 months we’ve got to know him a little better and now I think we’re seeing the very best of him, and not just as a fine young golfer.
Just like everyone of you, at heart, I’m just a golf fan! I can think of no better way to spend my time during our competitions than watching, and supporting, each of our young players as they compete and give their best each time they play. I watch some great golf, some good golf and, occasionally, some not so good golf too! What’s always really interesting though is regardless of the standard of golf that’s being played the character and personality of the player is ALWAYS worth watching!
I’m pretty certain that Phoenix enjoys playing golf…I mean he REALLY enjoys it! I first noticed a few weeks back that each time I watch him play he always seems to be smiling, joking or laughing at something! It’s a big part of his personality and we love that about him! He plays with a smile and a little bit of a swagger, he’s confident in his ability though never cocky, if there’s a player out there who’s happier playing I’ve yet to meet him/her and incidentally when you put that type of personality alongside his ability it makes a really fine young player!
Phoenix didn’t have it easy to start off in this one. 3 shots dropped in the first 3 holes before he steadied things. Steadying things means getting back to making par as often as possible and he did just that in real style. Of the following 12 holes no less than 11 were made in par, the other was birdied! An unfortunate dropped shot at 16 broke the magical run but was quickly forgotten as the last two holes were made in par too!
Phoenix carded a 38-37-75 which would prove to be a single stroke better off than Maggie and enough to take his first Claret Jug flight win and the medal.
As I said earlier, scores like these or lower are what’s needed to win this special player flight! Maggie and Phoenix both deserve great credit for their performances, they showed a lot of similarities as competitors and in the end it was a very close thing.
Very well done to Maggie and Congratulations to Phoenix from everyone at HJT on your first Claret Jug flight win.
The Old Tom Morris Flight:
Our 16-18 year old players competing in this one and right from the start it was going to be either Elle Folland (The Villages HS) or Jonathan Ring (Rhineland Cutlery) who would take the honors.
Jonathan sets himself very high standards and most weeks he can be found close to or top of our OTM leader board. He often takes more risks than many others when he plays and has done so for as long as I’ve known him. He does so because he enjoys the challenge that comes with making that really tough % shot for a birdie or a par save. Often it works out for him, and occasionally it doesn’t, but one thing is for sure it’s NEVER dull when Jonathan is playing!
Jonathan’s front 9 was like a mirror image of many others. Early holes 1 through 6 caused problems that resulted in dropped shots. At 7 things changed, par was made. 8 and 9 were also made in par. A single shot dropped at 10 would be the last shot he would give away for the rest of the day as the remaining 8 holes were all made in par! That back 9 total of 37 highlighted once again that when things click into gear for him Jonathan is undoubtedly one of our top performers! His scorecard reads 44-37-81.
Elle’s start was similar. 4 shots dropped in the first 4 holes. Par secured over the next two holes was a positive before another bogey at 7. An impressive birdie at 8 helped but unfortunately was followed by a couple dropped shots at 9. At the turn Elle led by only two strokes from Jonathan, to secure the win in this one would require a much more consistent performance as she moved into the back 9 holes.
A powerful start was what Elle wanted, and got, at the par 5 10th. Her birdie there would be the first of 3 birdies on the back 9 holes (10,12 and 17) and no fewer than 4 in total for the day. There were still moments of frustration with 3 shots dropped at 13 but the “birdie” effect helped a great deal to ensure Elle performed an impressive comeback on those closing holes. A +1(37) on the back 9 and overall 42-37-79 would prove to be enough to take the flight medal win by 2 strokes.
Elle did it the hard way. The most important factor is she showed the strength of character needed to turn a rather inconsistent round into a solid win by battling through the setbacks EVERY time they showed up. Good players, confident and experienced competition players, have that in their locker and we have a great example of that in Elle Folland.
Jonathan ran Elle close on this one, hopefully his own back 9 is a solid marker for improved consistency moving forward but we’re confident he’s always going to be in the mix of our best players in the coming weeks.
Congratulations Elle from everyone at HJT. Well played and good job on achieving your second win of the 2021 HJT season.
The Young Tommy Morris Flight:
Our 13-15 year old’s in this flight and it was to be another really close thing between two outstanding young players who have both already experienced a win on HJT already in 2021.
Delaney Sillaway (Longwood) and Tripp Watkins (Harbor Hills CC) shared two things in common on Saturday. Firstly, they probably both wish they had started a little stronger and made more of the opportunities they had early on! The second thing they both have in abundance is RESILIENCE and enough experience of playing competition golf to understand the need to forget what’s gone before and focus entirely on making the very best out of what’s ahead of you. If the front 9 holes created some disappointments for each of them they both more than made up for them with some exceptional golf on the closing 9 holes…and this one finished close!
Delaney front 9 didn’t start as she had hoped. +5 after the opening 4 holes and needing to steady things she found reassuring pars on the next two before giving away another couple of shots at 7. A birdie at 8 followed by bogey at 9 sums up an uncharacteristic front nine for Delaney. For any golfer when there are struggles there is a point where you can easily become resigned to the fact that your day is probably NOT going to get much better! Better players however, like Delaney, don’t think that way!
Delaney’s back 9 was exceptional! Her ability to reset and go again is deserving of all the praise we can give her. A birdie at 10 was the perfect way to begin, par at 11 and another birdie at the par 3 12th (our nearest the pin hole where I watched her hit it closest and then sink the putt!) Par was made on the next 3 holes before the only dropped shot of the back 9 showed up at 16. A par followed at 17 and there was still room for a little bit more red on her scorecard as another fine birdie at 18, her fourth of the day, rounded off a really impressive finish.
Delaney’s scorecard showed 43-34-77, her back nine total was -2 and best of the entire player field at Continental! Well done Delaney, what a great comeback that was!
Tripp Watkins won his flight earlier this year on our first visit to Continental. Clearly this is a venue Tripp enjoys playing. His start to the day, like many others, was a little mixed. 3 shots were dropped over the opening 4 holes but despite the setbacks he was always quick to steady things and make par immediately after. Over the opening 9 holes Tripp shot par on 6 of them. At the turn he was +4 and knowing his history and knowledge of Continental he would certainly be looking to improve on that over the back 9 holes.
Tripp works really hard on his game. As long as I’ve known him he’s always been a very fine young player with few flaws in his overall game, he’s accurate off the tee and his short game is really strong too. What’s become noticeable is he’s now starting to look like an even stronger and more confident young man too….and some of that strength is starting to show in distance gained off the tee where he’s still getting accuracy AND now extra yardage too!
Tripp made par on 6 of the remaining 9. That’s the kind of run we now expect of this talented young player however his highlight of the day really stands out! At the 16th hole par 5 he made a very special putt to secure the day’s only Eagle amongst our field of players! Well done on that achievement Tripp…it was exceptional and went a long way to help secure him a level par back 9 total of only 36 strokes and an overall card of 40-36-76. That would be enough to secure the HJT medal win, his second of the 2021 season (and both at Continental!) by a single stroke from Delaney Sillaway.
A huge well done to both players for showing us your finest qualities, both fighting back from an early period when things weren’t all going your way and playing some exceptional golf along the way! In the end it was Tripp who took the medal and congratulations from everyone at HJT.
Delaney may not have claimed the medal on this occasion but that back 9 total of -2 AND closest to the pin were just a couple of your Continental highlights!
The Bobby Jones Flight:
Our youngest compete in this one, aged 9-11. There’s never any shortage of good golf, tensions running high, and at times it can even get a bit emotional as our young guns leave everything they’ve got out on the golf course!
This one was going to be tough to call early on as the field was such a strong one. No fewer than 4 of our 5 players were previous recent medalists and separating them was going to be need something very special. We got that and more!
In the early stages 3 players Ryker Huther (Sorrento), Jeremy Castellanos (Windermere) and Bobby Jones Potash (Eustis) were all contesting the lead. Gradually as the afternoon went on it would narrow to two players and then only one.
Ryker Huther was a runner up in our 2020 Claret Jug Champion Golfer event. He’s a young player we know well, a very talented competitor with an exceptional all round game and now it’s looking like he’s taken a bit of a stretch too resulting in longer drives, what’s good to see is he still has the accuracy he needs to put himself in strong positions in tournament play.
Ryker made a great start to the day, 3 pars and a birdie. Impressive given how much trouble others had over these holes all day. He didn’t have it all his own way though as he made bogey at 5 before putting another impressive birdie on his card at 6. Unfortunately he gave a couple shots back too over the next 3 holes. After 9 he sat joint top of our leader board with a +2 38.
The back 9 was less kind to the youngster from Sorrento. Highlight was another birdie at 15 but Ryker found putts hard to make and eventually his scorecard would show 38-41-79.
Jeremy Castellanos last played with us at Red Tail last year. He is an extremely likeable young man who plays with a smile on his face, he’s also an exceptionally fine young player who clearly works really hard to continue developing his skills, especially in and around the green. Jeremy also matched Ryker posting a front 9 total of 38, his highlights included two nice birdies and 6 pars. On the back 9 he showed the same level of determination and consistency to match that score of 38, along the way he added another birdie at 11 and par on 5 of the last 9 holes. Jeremy’s scorecard showed 38-38-76
Bobby Jones Potash has won twice already in 2021 with HJT. Number 3 would reward him with promotion into the elite Claret Jug Flight for 3 time flight winners in 2021 season. That would be a goal set by him but his overall goal never changes, Bobby wants to win whenever he plays! His route to get there on Saturday was an interesting one!
Front 9 was pretty solid. A welcome birdie at 3 and 5 holes made in par kept him joint top after 9 with a +2 38. Bobby’s back 9 attitude and performance would be the difference between the players today and why Bobby would leave with the medal win!
Bobby started the back 9 in the best way possible, birdie! At 11 he did it again…birdie! What happened next, at the par 3 12th had to be seen to be believed! A powerful and perfectly lofted iron shot never moved from the target all the way, it was perfectly on line, so perfect in fact that it dropped from its flight path onto the edge of the hole and flagstick and then ,cruelly, flew straight left finishing off the green!
I can honestly say I’ve never seen that happen before…the impact on the edge of the hole made that ball change direction in a way that you could not possibly imagine. For Bobby it was a horrible piece of bad luck that snatched a certain ace from his grasp! Tough to take for the youngster but give him great credit, he lined up the shot off the green, made good contact and finished off with a putt to make par! Well done Bobby, that was harsh but loved how you handled it!
On other days I’ve seen Bobby get down on himself after a setback. Today he showed golf maturity (or as much of it as we can expect, he’s 9 after all!) and dispatched 5 of the last 6 holes in par to finish the back 9 in -1 35. His final scorecard reads: 38-35-73. Bobby Jones Potash shot lowest score of the day, took the win by 3 strokes, made it 3 wins for the year AND achieved promotion to our Claret Jug Flight of winning players, no less than he deserved!
Congratulations Bobby from everyone at HJT, it was a performance that had a bit of everything in it and you are our very worthy medal winner of our Bobby Jones Flight.
The Player Scores:
The Nearest the Pin Award:
She so narrowly missed out on the Flight win today but Delaney DID take home the prize for closest shot of the day in our nearest the pin competition. Well done Delaney!
That wraps up another great day of Junior Golf. Low scores, great golf and tons of excitement! Thank you to all of our players for your efforts, you all did exceptionally well!
Thank you to Continental CC for keeping the course in such fine condition. We are back on Saturday April 3rd at our home venue; Eagle Ridge GC in Summerfield and then on Saturday April 10th it’s the highlight of the 2021 season so far as we take on the one and only, THE best Florida has to offer venue that is El Campeon at Mission Inn Resort!
Registration for all future events is now open by clicking HERE. We hope you can make it to an event soon.
Thank you as always to our Tour Sponsor, Todd and Melissa Coon at TCL (Tri County Landscapes) who are so supportive of junior golf in our community and who help us enormously in our goal to get as many kids as possible playing our great sport for life.
See you all soon everyone!