Byrne captures Baltimore Junior
Testa wins in first IJGT Event
URBANA, Md. – The International Junior Golf Tour (IJGT) was in Urbana, Md., on Sept. 21-22 for the Baltimore Junior at Worthington Manor. The two-day, 36-hole event was hosted by Worthington Manor Golf Club. A talented field with players ages 10-19, and representing three states took on the course, competing for national rankings and IJGT Merit Points.
Situated in the rolling hills of Maryland, Worthington Manor is an Ault-Clark Signature Design. A par-72, the course totaled 6,836 yards for the Boys 15-19 Division, 6,247 for the Boys 14 & Under Division, and 5,767 for the Girls Division. Narrow, twisting fairways, three ponds, and a multitude of bunkers and hazards showed why the course had frequently been selected as a U.S. Open qualifying site. Add in wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour and consistent rain on the first day, and it made for a difficult weekend for many at Worthington Manor, a course ranked as one of the “Best Courses You Can Play in Maryland,” by Golfweek.
Byrne got off to hot start in round one and never let up. He carded birdies on Nos. 9,11,13, and 18 on his way to a first-round 73, putting him in a tie for the lead with Bryan Morris of Beltsville, Md., going into the final round. Byrne and Morris would be joined by Mike Blasey of Potomac, Md., who fired a first-round 76, in the last group on the final day.
Picking up where he left off after the first day, Byrne began his round with three pars in four holes. A birdie on the ninth hole put him at 1-over-par 37, for the front nine. Morris and Blasey each dropped a couple of strokes to Byrne on the front side.
Byrne’s biggest challenger was playing in the group ahead. After tallying a 76 on Saturday, Schaap matched Byrne’s front-nine 37 and sat only three back with nine holes to play. Schaap birdied hole No. 11, before dropping two strokes with bogeys on holes Nos. 13 and 16. He made things interesting with birdies on holes Nos. 17 and 18 to finish at even-par 72 for the day and awaited Byrne’s finish.
But it would not be enough, as Byrne also put up three birdies against two bogeys on the back to shoot even-par 72 for the day and 145 for the two-day tournament, three clear of Schaap at 148.
“I was striking my driver well all week, hit my irons pretty well and made a lot of birdies,” Byrne noted as a key to his victory.
At even-par 72, Byrne and Schaap tied for the Clazic Belts Low Final Round Award.
Blasey rounded out the top three at 153 for 36-holes, recording a 77 in the final round to go with his first-round 76.
In the Girls Division, Brittany Testa of Potomac, Md., was able to come out victorious in her first IJGT Event. Playing in the wind and rain, Testa struggled to get a rhythm early on during her first round. She was able to make up six strokes on her back nine and finished the day firing a 98.
Sunday was more of the same story for Testa, as the difficult opening hole got the best of her. Following a rough second hole, she found her game, highlighted by a par on the seventh. For the second straight day Testa improved her score on the back-nine. She scored par on the 10th, 13th and 14th holes on her way to a 47. Testa finished with a score of 195 for the event.
“My driving was key all week,” Testa noted. “With a lot of wind, I focused on keeping the ball low.”
As close as the Boys 15-19 Division was, the Boys 14 & Under Division was even closer. Joe Parrini of York, Pa., came away with his third-consecutive IJGT victory. He was able to top William Sheedy of Washington D.C., by one stroke.
Parrini shot an 80 in the first round and held a five-stroke lead over Sheedy as they entered the last day. Brett Levenstein of Olney, Md., also was in the mix, sitting six shots back, joining Parrini and Sheedy in the last group.
Parrini started the round with three pars and opened up an even larger lead. But he found trouble on holes Nos. 7, 8 and 9 while Sheedy closed the gap. After 27 holes, the lead was down to four strokes.
Sheedy got within three, but a triple-bogey on hole No. 12 appeared like it would end any chance of victory. Following the 12th hole, Sheedy went on a tear, carding a par on five consecutive holes and a birdie on hole No.18 to finish at 78 for the day and get right back in it.
Parrini was not ready to see his winning streak come to an end, though. With Sheedy breathing down his back, Parrini kept focus and was able to do just enough to win. Parrini finished the day with an 82, good for a two-round total of 162, one clear of Sheedy’s 163.
Even with the victory, Parrini noted the course was not the easiest. “The slopes in the greens were tough. If you hadn’t played the course before it can be tricky. Lots of blind shots,” he said.
Levenstein rounded out the top three with a final score of 86-84-170.
The IJGT Northeast tour will be back at it the weekend of Sept. 28-29 in Pittsford, N.Y., for The Upstate Challenge at Locust Hill. The tournament will be played at Locust Hill Country Club which hosted the 2013 Wegman’s LPGA Championship. To sign up for this Event, or others, visit IJGT.com or call (843) 785-2444.