Links: Final Results
Andrew Franz of Ridgefield Golf Course made an improbable comeback to win the 75th Connecticut Junior Amateur, defeating Matt Bornstein of Silver Spring Country Club on the 20th hole. The state’s oldest junior amateur championship is presented by Cobra Puma Golf and Golf on the Green and was held July 11th – 14th at the 6,423 yard, par 71 course at Watertown Golf Club in Watertown, Connecticut.
Both players began the 18-hole championship final seeking to win their first Junior Amateur championship. After making the turn all-square, Bornstein jumped out to his biggest lead in the final match, capitalizing on Franz’s bogies on the 11th and 12th holes to grab a 2-up advantage with just six holes to play. Needing to change the momentum, Franz hit his approach on the par-4 13th to within fifteen feet and had an opportunity to close the gap.
“I got lucky on the approach and only had ten or fifteen feet for birdie, and wasn’t too happy that I three-putted to halve the hole," said Franz. "But In my semifinal match, I won five holes in a row to win, so I knew anything could happen in match play. I just tried to refocus after that and hit really good iron shots on the next two par-3’s.”
After halving the 14th hole with pars, Franz hit his approach on the par-3 15th to eight feet from the hole. With Bornstein thirty feet away after his tee shot, it looked like Franz would be able to close the gap. However, a made putt by Bornstein and a miss by Franz left him three down with three holes to play and a seemingly insurmountable deficit.
“On the 16th tee, I just said to myself, ‘just take one hole at a time and not try to think about winning three holes in a row.," said Franz. "I was just trying to get to the next tee on every green.’”
He did just that, proceeding to win the 16th and 17th holes with par, and was 1-down standing in the 18th fairway. With Bornstein on the green in regulation, Franz stepped up and hit his approach to within ten feet from the hole. Needing to make the putt to extend the match, Franz calmly rolled in his birdie to send the match to extra holes.
Both Franz and Bornstein birdied the par-5 first hole and hit the green in regulation on the par-4 2nd. Bornstein, facing a putt of nearly ninety feet, lagged his first putt to within five feet from the hole. After Franz nearly missed his birdie putt, Bornstein faced a tricky sidehill putt to extend the match, and was unable to convert. A tap-in par was all that was needed for Franz to secure his first Junior Amateur Championship.
“It’s pretty special,” said Franz. “I had a pretty early tee time on Monday and shot 77, so there was a point where I didn’t think I was even going to get into the playoff to make match play.”
This marked Franz’s third time playing in the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship, with 2016 being the first time he successfully qualified for match play. Originally from London, England, Franz graduated from high school this past spring. He is planning on taking a year off before attending Bucknell University in the fall of 2017.
With their appearance in the finals of the Connecticut Junior Amateur, both Franz and Bornstein automatically qualify to represent Connecticut on the New England Junior Team. New Hampshire will host the championship on August 15th – 17th at Cochecho Country Club, and Team Connecticut will be looking to win its ninth title in fifteen years.
The CSGA is back in action July 25th - 27th, when it hosts the 82nd Connecticut Open Championship at Woodway Country Club in Darien, Conn. Admission is free and spectators are encouraged to attend. For more information, visit ConnecticutOpen.com.
Final Match (18-holes)
Andrew Franz, Ridgefield Golf Course def. Matt Bornstein, Silver Spring Country Club, 20 holes
About the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship
Conducted by the Connecticut State Golf Association, the Connecticut Junior Amateur Championship presented by Cobra Puma Golf and Golf on the Green is open to all Connecticut junior golfers who have not reached their eighteenth birthday by the start of the event. The challenging format tests the state's best junior golfers over a single round of stroke play to determine the low thirty-two match play qualifiers. Two rounds of match play each day culminate in an eighteen-hole final to crown the top junior player in Connecticut.