WARMINSTER — The greens at Five Pond Golf Course were downright treacherous for the Suburban One Tournament Monday morning. Whether the pins were placed on the hazard-side of the putting surface, tucked away in the corner of the green, positioned on a steep downhill or intimidatingly below the cup, the young golfers were in for a challenge.
It was a day that the lofty goal of par would put any player in contention for the boys individual title, so it was fitting that two players' score of even-par 71 won a share of first place.
Jalen Griffin, Suburban One's top-ranked player from Wissahickon and Tyler Sokolis of Central Bucks West split the honors but share the glory.
"I was basically leading the whole year and I know people wanted to get after me and beat me,' said Griffin about being marked as the top player in the SOL. "It gives me confidence and it gives me motivation to play well when people coming after me.'
An early bogey on the second hole was quickly reversed when Griffin birdied back-to-back holes on the fifth and sixth, but not without an amount of difficulty. On the sixth, Griffin's tee shot landed right of the fairway underneath a tree. Cutting a shot out from the impediment, Griffin, who is vastly undersized to the rest of the group, muscled the ball onto the green in two and then sank a 30-foot putt for his second birdie in as many holes.
"I had a lot of those [long putts] today, because the pin location was always on the backside or in the front,' Griffin said. "I was playing too much break all day and I figured I'd hit it dead and hard and see what happens.
"It worked, and that was a huge confidence boost for the day.'
Griffin's day in a nutshell was his ability to rebound from shots that went awry. Whether he was playing from near the boundary or punching out from under trees, he recovered quickly and made the shots that mattered.
Sokolis, meanwhile, was hot on his heels. Hearing rumblings of Griffin's scores and shots throughout the day, Sokolis, who was a group behind, was just trying to play par golf if nothing else.
"I came into the back nine thinking that I'd try to get in with a good number and be happy with it,' Sokolis said.
On the 16th, Griffin fell a stroke behind after once again punching out from the wilderness and making bogey, ending his streak of pars at eight. Griffin, unfazed, hit his tee-shot on the 166-yard 17th five feet from the hole and sank the putt to return to even with one hole to play.
Falling back a stroke and returning to a share of the lead went unbeknownst to Griffin, however, as he parred on another dagger from inside ten feet to finish his round.
"I didn't know anyone else's score, so I was able to just focus on playing, because if I knew that [Sokolis was tied for the lead] on that last hole and I had to make that putt, I would have been a little shaky,' Griffin said.
Meanwhile, Sokolis was under the impression that Griffin had now taken a stroke lead with one hole to play.
"I was about to tee off on 18 and my dad came back and said that Jalen just birded,' Sokolis said. "I went the aggressive route [on my tee shot], but I didn't quite pull it off. I had the long putt and I just wanted to put it within three or four feet, and on the last putt I thought how I played well all day and not to give up.'
Sokolis' final putt caught the lip and spiraled in.
"I stayed with the same mindset all day, par is a good score,' Sokolis said.
Sokolis and the CB West team had already qualified for the district tournament along with Pennsbury and Upper Dublin. However, Wissahickon claimed the Wild Card and earned themselves a trip districts by virtue of the team's first place finish with a round total of 313. Upper Dublin and Council Rock North tied for second with rounds of 318.
"I'm so happy that my team won the Wild Card and we're going to districts,' Griffin said. "That was more important to me today than individual [achievement]. That's a huge, huge thing for us.'
NOTES: Tom Fisher of Hatboro-Horsham holed out an incredible wedge shot from over 130 yards on the 16th, the longest make of his career.
After double bogeying No. 15, Fisher came out with a driver that he hit squarely down the fairway. His approach shot, a 133-yard pitching wedge, he knocked right at the pin. On one bounce it struck the pole and slid into the cup.
"I hit it well and it just one-hopped and disappeared into the hole,' Fisher said. "The ball I had, I found this Pro V1 a little while ago and it had this little flower drawn on it. The flower was facing up and I just picked the flower out of the hole.'
Qualifying for the tournament were two young ladies who did more than just hold their own. Rebecca Chiger from Abington and Michayla Seimion from CB West, competed in boys tournament, shooting 88 and 86 respectively, both calling Monday's round a "warmup' for Wednesday's SOL Women's Golf Tournament at LuLu Country Club.
"I definitely got the bad round out of the way,' Seimion said. "Which is always good, I'll play better and be ready on Wednesday.'
STUDENT SCHOOL CONF Front Back TOTAL
1 Jalen Griffin Wissahickon AMERICAN 35 36 71
1 Tyler Sokolis CB West CONTINENTAL 35 36 71
3 Connor Breslin Abington NATIONAL 37 36 73
4 Chris Binet Springfield AMERICAN 38 37 75
5 Jack Melville Upper Dublin AMERICAN 38 38 76
6 Vinay Ramesh Pennsbury NATIONAL 37 39 76
7 Andrew Coleman CB West CONTINENTAL 36 41 77
8 Ryan Conner CR North NATIONAL 41 36 77
9 Michael Reed Price Upper Dublin AMERICAN 40 38 78
10 Austin Fugelstad CR North NATIONAL 40 38 78
11 Alex Kim Wissahickon AMERICAN 39 40 79
12 Noah Harrington Wissahickon AMERICAN 41 38 79
13 David Kim Upper Dublin AMERICAN 38 41 79
14 Luke McKeogh William Tennent NATIONAL 39 40 79
15 Tom Fisher Hatboro-Horsham CONTINENTAL 39 41 80
16 Jake Fitts CB South CONTINENTAL 40 40 80
17 Craig Meschel Pennsbury NATIONAL 41 39 80
18 Matt Delehey CR North NATIONAL 36 44 80
19 Colton Pifer Pennridge CONTINENTAL 41 40 81
20 Alex Simon Pennsbury NATIONAL 37 44 81
21 Alejandro Velez Souderton CONTINENTAL 39 43 82
22 Lukas Clark CR South NATIONAL 44 38 82
23 Matt Shur Abington NATIONAL 43 39 82
24 Kyle Putnam CB South CONTINENTAL 40 43 83
25 Jerry Meekins Souderton CONTINENTAL 40 43 83
26 Joe Rochelle Quakertown CONTINENTAL 44 39 83
27 Tommy Lewis CB East CONTINENTAL 43 40 83
28 Austin Roland Pennridge CONTINENTAL 40 43 83
29 Logan Fugelstad CR North NATIONAL 42 41 83
30 Dan Sunderland Wissahickon AMERICAN 42 42 84
31 Max Schwartz CB South CONTINENTAL 44 40 84
32 Hank Kaufmann Pennsbury NATIONAL 39 45 84
33 John Buliga Neshaminy NATIONAL 38 46 84
34 Carter Field PWHS AMERICAN 43 42 85
35 Matt Amey Upper Dublin AMERICAN 45 40 85
36 Greg Welsh Wissahickon AMERICAN 41 44 85
37 Shane McIntyre Pennridge CONTINENTAL 43 42 85
38 Dawson Anders Souderton CONTINENTAL 47 38 85
39 Dave Pontari Plymouth-Whitemarsh AMERICAN 44 42 86
40 Kyle Kost CB East CONTINENTAL 44 42 86
41 Lenny Welch Souderton CONTINENTAL 46 40 86
42 Alex Philipp CB East CONTINENTAL 37 49 86