New England Jr. Am features unique team setting

New England Jr. Am features unique team setting

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New England Jr. Am features unique team setting

For many junior golfers in New England, summer tournaments are a chance to showcase their individual talents to college coaches, and to see how they measure up in competition. But the New England Junior Amateur Championship, which concluded Tuesday at the Brattleboro CC in Brattleboro, Vt., gives the region’s top junior golfers a chance to represent their respective states, and battle for bragging rights in a team format.

The 54-hole stroke play tournament is made up of seven-player teams from Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut. The format is similar to a college or high school tournament, with the five best scores from each team making up that state’s total score. The process of choosing players mirrors that of the Ryder Cup, as each state bases their selections on overall performance throughout the summer. With just seven positions available for an entire state, competition for a spot on the respective rosters is fierce. Certain tournaments, such as state junior championships, factor more heavily into the selection process.

The first day of competition, which was scheduled for 36 holes, was cancelled due to heavy rains that nearly washed out the entire event. With just one round to determine a winner, every shot came with added pressure. While a number of players overcame the wet conditions and posted low scores, no one was better than Peter French, who led Massachusetts to victory while claiming the individual title with a round of 4-under 67.

“The conditions were tough,” said French, who was not selected to compete last year. “I just tried to play through it and make some birdies.”

French’s round was highlighted with five birdies, including a four-hole stretch on the front nine in which he was 3 under.

The rest of Team Massachusetts offered sufficient support to French’s low round. Jason Steele, who tied for second in individual scoring with Rhode Island’s Seamus Fennelly, shot a 1-over 72. John Beadle came in with a 74, while Connor Murphy and Chad Stumpo rounded out the scoring, carding 76 and 78, respectively.

Although there are few junior events in which players compete as part of a team, the format was not unfamiliar. Most of the players soon will start another season on their high school teams, as many New England schools offer golf as a fall sport.

“The New England Junior Amateur is a nice transition into high school golf,” said French, who will be a senior at Franklin High School in Franklin, Mass. “I’m hitting the ball really well and can’t wait to keep playing.”

Connecticut, which won the 2010 championship, tied for second with New Hampshire, while Rhode Island followed in fourth place. Maine finished fifth, nine shots ahead of Vermont.

Nick Hedden, the nephew of the 2011 New England Amateur champion Jeff Hedden, placed fourth with a round of 73.

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